“Hey.” Morgan said when she entered the locker room, Claire was already in her scrubs getting ready for their shift.
Claire turned out and grinned, “hey yourself.” Her eyes glinted with happiness, Morgan took a second to look at her, Claire has always been beautiful to her but after their date, the brunette was basically glowing. Claire looked around to make sure no one was coming before leaning over to kiss the blonde swiftly. It surprised Morgan for a second before she quickly kissed the other doctor, she pulled back just as quickly.
“We’re at work, Claire.” She said warningly.
“I know.” Claire grinned some more, her eyes flashed playfully.
“Cheeky.” Morgan replied before taking her change of scrubs to the nearby changing room.
“Who are you with today?” Claire asked.
“Dr. Melendez with Park.” Morgan raised her voice from behind the curtains. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“Let’s get this day started.” They smiled at each other before stepping out of the locker room, professional looks set on their faces.
It doesn’t take long for some sort of bad news to hit when one works at the hospital, Morgan thinks, but this is just unjust.
“He can’t be back, this is just ridiculous!” Claire looked at Dr.Lim in exasperation. Apparently Dr. Coyle who she reported and was transferred to another hospital was coming in today to lead an important surgery.
“I’m sorry, Dr.Browne. It’s not something I have power over.” Dr. Lim looked at Claire in sympathy.
“This is just-” Claire huffed, clenching her fists. Dr. Coyle was an orthopedic surgeon who was way too friendly to her to the point of crossing the line of sexual harassment. When Claire had finally gathered the courage to report it to Andrews, she found out that not only was Coyle not fired, but he was transferred to another hospital with a higher position. The system was unjust but at least Claire could selfishly say that Coyle was no longer working under the same roof as her anymore, and now he’s back.
Claire was not afraid, she was pissed. And there was nothing she could do.
“I’m sorry to say this, but rein in your emotions. We have surgery in 2 hours, and I need my team emotionally stable and physically available.” Lim looked at Claire sympathetically.
Claire took a deep breath before letting it out, counting to 10 in her head before nodding to herself.
“I’m sorry,” she sighed.
“It’s alright, take 20 and report back to me. We don’t have much other than checking on our patients and prepping for the surgery, and that includes having a clear mind.” Lim said and Claire thanked her gratefully before leaving.
Unconsciously, she was looking for a certain blonde as she walked around. Finally she found the blonde doctor with Dr. Park on level 5.
“Hey, you busy?” Claire knocked on the door softly, the patient in the room was asleep while the two doctors were looking at the patient’s recent test results. Morgan turned around in surprise before walking to Claire at the door, Park smartly stayed where he was, but he could still hear the women's’ conversation.
“Not really, what’s up? I thought you have to assist Dr. Lim for that kidney surgery?” Morgan asked, concern filling her face upon seeing the troubled look on Claire’s face.
“Nothing, just want to tell you about something. You know Dr. Coyle, your previous attending?” Claire asked, hands flaring about in frustration, she did not pay attention to Morgan’s reaction. Morgan’s face immediately paled while her hands clenched hard around the report, she took in a sharp breath and tensed her jaw.
“Yeah, why?” Morgan stared ahead, not looking at Claire. That was when Claire noticed her reactions and alarms blared in her head. It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots. Recognition filled Claire before a hot burning fire filled her guts. Anger and intense protectiveness flared up in Claire but she was careful not to cause a scene in public.
“He’s coming back today to lead a major surgery.” Claire said slowly, observing Morgan’s reaction. If it was possible, Claire paled some more and let out a shaky breath.
“Oh.” was Morgan’s only reply. She was still staring ahead but Claire could see Claire was worked up, to the point that she was almost vibrating. Claire wondered if Morgan was resisting from rocking on her feet, the thought made her want to reach out and hug the blonde, but she knew this was not the time nor place, and Morgan would not welcome the action. The last thing Morgan needed was to appear weak in public.
“Morgan..” Claire said softly, but that single word seemed to shook Morgan from her thoughts, Morgan looked at her with a clenched jaw, steel in her eyes. Her eyes warned Claire from asking any questions and Claire understood, it seemed that the topic of a certain doctor is a sensitive issue and not to be discussed now, but later in the privacy of their own company.
“Later.” Morgan said, Claire nodded solemnly. She knew she had to report back to Dr.Lim now, tentatively she slowly reached out her hand, discreetly brushing Morgan’s hand still on the report. When the blonde did not flinch, Claire covered her closed fist with her own gentle hand, she squeezed it before letting go.
“You’ll be okay for now?” Claire asked, reluctant to go but knew duty called. Morgan forced a smile.
“Yes, go. Dr.Lim is probably wondering where you are.”
Claire nodded and didn’t know what else to say, she wanted to say something affectionate but knew they weren’t ready to be public.
“I’ll see you soon.” Claire said before rushing away, she knew if she stayed any longer, it would do no good for either of them.
When Claire left, Morgan turned around to Park and they exchanged looks. Park’s jaws were clenched and his eyes were protective. Morgan suddenly felt a strange comfort settling in her for a short moment, she was no longer the scared 16 year old girl as before. She had two people who cared for her and would protect her. She smiled reassuringly but the smile fooled nobody.
Claire counted her steps all the way back to Dr. Lim, every count forced her to focus on herself, and her surroundings instead of her feelings or thoughts. People’s lives depended on her ability to function as a doctor, and her morality made that her priority. She forced herself to not think about Morgan at all or she knew she would spiral. The faster she was done with today, the faster she could go to Morgan.
“Dr. Browne. Feeling better?” Dr. Lim asked when she was Claire reporting back to her, the older doctor could see something changed in the other doctor in the span of 20 minutes she was out, the other doctor came back with fire in her eyes.
“Yes.” Morgan replied with determination.
While Claire was in surgery with Shaun and Dr. Lim, Morgan and Park were rushing to the OR with Dr. Melendez when their 12 year old patient had a complication pre-op, and had to undergo the surgery 2 hours earlier than expected. The surgery was a success, thankfully. Morgan exhaled a breath of relief, but her relief was short lived.
“I heard you had a successful surgery, congratulations.” A male voice broke the silence in the doctors’ lounge, Morgan and Park were taking a breather there but Park had left to get some coffee for them at the cafeteria. It seemed like Morgan’s luck had run out. Her blood ran cold and goosebumps rose on her arms when she heard the voice.
She forced herself to turn around, “What are you doing here?” She held her chin up, and forced herself to not clench her fists or seem affected by the other man’s mere presence.
“No welcome hug? I came early to see you, you know.” Dr. Coyle raised his arms mockingly. The hidden meaning in his sentence caused Morgan to shiver.
“I still have my patients to see to, if you could excuse me.” Morgan snapped and attempted to move around the man, but his arms remained open, actively blocking her exit.
“Hey, hey. What’s the rush, Morg? You’re not happy to see me? I’m hurt.” Coyle teased and blocked the blonde again when she tried to sidestep him, his bigger stature made Morgan feel trapped.
“You know better than that, and don’t call me that.” Morgan glared and crossed her arms, keeping a distance before herself and the other man.
“I don’t know what you mean, Morg. Don’t forget that you wouldn’t be where you are without me, your parents trust me more than they trust you.” Coyle smirked, he knew exactly what to say to get to the blonde. Morgan pushed her nails into her inner forearm, and forced herself to not be affected by what the other man said, she knew there were truths in his words, but they were no longer valid.
“I don’t care, Coyle. What you did was teen grooming, manipulative and disgusting. I’m no longer 16, looking for approval or permission to enter med school. I am a surgical resident in this hospital by my own merits.” Morgan stood her ground, spat with steel in her eyes.
Surprised by her reply, all teasing went out of Coyle's eyes and he basically snarled menacingly, he stepped closer to Morgan dangerously and Morgan swallowed down her fear that crashed over her like a tsunami.
“You are mine, and you owe me!” Coyle stepped forward again and Morgan faltered, she stepped backwards and was very aware of how close she was to being cornered. She felt immobile, ever since she was 18 she had got herself self-defense classes and a gun license, she made sure to make time to practice both during her days off, but they all seemed useless at the moment. She felt like she was 16 all over again.
“Step closer to me one more time and I will scream. “ Morgan said even while her voice shook, and hated herself for not being stronger. Coyle chuckled and felt only triumph, he stepped closer and aggressively restrained Morgan’s wrists against the wall, Morgan yelled and struggled.
“Scared?” He laughed some more but suddenly he was pushed away, Morgan jumped and yelled. “What the hell?!” Coyle growled. Stepping protectively in front of Morgan was Park.
“Get away from her!” Park said dangerously. Coyle stood up and patted his legs.
“I see your guard dog is back.” Coyle laughed, “Dr. Park, do you know what happened to the last doctor who pushed me?”
“I don’t care, if you touch her again I’m calling the police, I don’t think the police would be happy with how many sexual harassment complaints you had received in just last year, do you.” Park said sternly, at the moment Morgan couldn’t be more glad or grateful for Park’s steady demeanor. She was quite shaken up by the turn of events, and right now Park felt like a big brother she could count on, and a police officer (even if it’s former) that she could trust.
Dr.Coyle chuckled, “Just you wait til I’m finished with my surgery, I’ll make sure you don’t have a career by then.” He threatened before he turned around and left. When Park was sure the other doctor wouldn’t come back, he turned to Morgan.
“Are you okay? Did he hurt you?” He asked, concerned. Morgan was shaking and her legs felt like jelly. “Come here, sit down. It’s okay, you’re okay.” Park led Morgan to the couch and handed her some water.
Morgan finished the water in one cup and clenched the paper cup tightly in her hands, her legs were bouncing softly before it turned aggressive, her eyes were starting to dart left and right. Park perched himself on the coffee table in front of her, blocking outsiders from seeing this side of Morgan. “Can you focus on my voice, Morgan? Listen to me, our patient is a 12 year old boy, he has …” Park said softly about their patient until Morgan slowly calmed down.
“That was stupid you know.” Morgan said when she could finally focus back on Park. “You shouldn't have pushed him, Andrew will not allow physical assault in this hospital, you heard what happened to Kalu. “Park sighed in relief upon hearing her speak, but shrugged at her words.
“Don’t worry, he will when I say it’s to protect you.” Morgan snapped her eyes at him, mouth opened to defend herself that she did not need protection before closing her mouth again, she did, in fact, needed protection. She thought frustratingly at herself, she hadn’t been able to speak, or move when Coyle got closer and closer to her. She looked down at her hands clenched together in a fist. “Thank you, Alex.”
Her open gratitude shocked Park for a moment, and that’s when he knew this was affecting Morgan more than usual. Guilt rose up in him, “You’re welcome. I’m sorry I left you, I told myself I wouldn’t but I did, even if it’s to get the stupid coffee.”
Morgan took a shaky breath before looking at him, “No, you couldn’t have known. Thank you, really, I’m um- “ Morgan looked away for a moment, feeling uncomfortable in her vulnerability, she looked back at Alex. “I’m grateful you were here; are here.”
“You feeling better?” Park asked, “I know we had this exact conversation before in our first year together, but I want to know if your answer changed. Do you want to report to Andrew this time? I know you were afraid last time, but I know you have come a long way. The choice is yours and you know I’ll support you like I did last time, but I think you should.”
Morgan nodded, took a long breath.
“If Andrew doesn’t believe me like my parents…” Morgan said, faltered for a moment before steel set in her eyes. “I have a restraining order, and this time we have the security camera, right?” She asked even though she knew the answer, she just needed verbal reassurance from Park.
“Yes, we do. It’ll make a solid case, Morgan. I’m a former police officer, I know my rights. If Andrew or the boards still turn a blind eye to this, this says more about this hospital than me, I wouldn’t want to work here anyway. Don’t worry about me.”
That seemed to really help Morgan, she nodded again and stood up.
“Let’s go to Andrew right now.” She looked at Park, and she found only pride in his eyes.
First, they had to go to their attending first. They reached Melendez and Morgan told him vaguely that she needed to go see Andrew right now, and Park insisted on following.
“Now? What is so urgent that you have to see our Chief of Surgery in the middle of your shift, is there something I should know?” Melendez asked, looking at both of his residents sharply, Morgan looked a bit shaken up, but stood proudly with determination.
Morgan hesitated for a moment before saying, “I have to tell Andrew first before anyone, this is urgent but I think it’s best if you come along too.”
Melendez looked a bit surprised but knew that the situation was more serious than he expected.
“Alright, let’s go. I need to make a few calls to another doctor and his residents to take over three of us for the next hour.”
So the three of them entered Andrew’s office, the chief of surgery looked up in surprise.
“Is there any problem with the patient?” Andrew asked, concerned.
Morgan took a deep breath, thought of Claire and how brave she was to stood up to Andrew about Coyle and spoke unwaveringly.
“I’m here to report a sexual assault case.” She said while Park and Melendez stayed behind her, Melendez and Andrew looked surprised. Andrew crossed his hands, looked at Morgan for a while.
“If this is about Dr. Coyle, it has already been settled by Dr. Browne’s report, Dr. Morgan. He has already been transferred to another hospital.”
Morgan clenched her hands, “Yes, he has. But I’m reporting another case, Dr. Coyle just sexually assaulted me at the Doctor’s lounge on level 5 just now.”
“What?” Morgan heard Melendez spoke behind her but ignored. She remained eye contact with Andrews, the other man raised his eyebrow and assessed her.
“Dr. Morgan, are you aware that Dr. Coyle had been called in to do a major surgery right now and is currently leading the surgery in level 8? How could he possibly have harassed you just now?” Morgan swallowed the urge to roll her eyes, she saw Park step forward protectively from the corner of her eyes, but shoot him a warning look. She needed to do this on her own.
“If you don’t believe me, you may check the security camera. It happened at 10:34am to be exact, at the doctor’s lounge, he may appear friendly at first, even though his behavior was not welcomed, and he became aggressive.”
“Alright, Dr. Reznick. I’ll look into it later when I have the time. Is there anything else?” Morgan and Alex clenched their jaw in annoyance at his clear dismissal.
“Yes, actually. Before he could attack me, Dr. Park appeared just in time to push him away. He protected me.”
“Push?” Andrew turned a critical eye at Park, Park stood his ground. “You know better than anyone about this hospital’s policy, I do not allow any form of assault in this hospital.”
Park held his chin high, “Including sexual assault, I assume, sir?” Andrew stared at him some more, if he was affected, he did not show it. “Any action done to protect one self or another civilian from attack is not, in your words, ‘any form of assault.”
Andrew took a second to look at them both, as well as the grave, serious look of Melendez at the background. He thought it was smart of these two residents to bring Melendez here, while he can pretend to overlook this, Melendez certainly wouldn’t. Andrew was the one who moved Coyle to another hospital under Aoki’s orders, what a fool he would look if the hospital received another similar report the day he asked Dr.Coyle to return to help with this major surgery.
“Alright, let’s watch the security clip.” He nodded and switched on the TV on the right wall, he typed a few things on his computer before the security clip appeared on the TV.
The clip showed exactly what Morgan’s described, Morgan thought proudly. Even though she was not happy about how helpless she looked in the clip, it was important. It showed proof how serious the case was, Morgan was proud and relieved. All the sexual assaults she had endured were in private, kept to herself in her darkest memories but she felt free when it was finally displayed for everyone to see, the clip could not be denied. It was solid evidence.
When it ended, Andrew was quiet for a while before he spoke, “I will inform O’Conner Hospital regarding their employee.”
“But this happened on your ground, Dr. Andrews.” Melendez spoke up before Morgan could protest. She knew if Andrew did that, Coyle would just be transferred to another hospital without any punishment. Everyone in the room knew that.
Andrew’s eyes snapped to Melendez, both holding a challenging gaze.
“As their attending, I will not allow this situation to be overlooked.” Melendez said sternly.
“He is no longer an employee here, I think there is nothing we can do.” Andrew shrugged, it was a clear lie, but he was using his position in this hospital to hide this.
“I will take this to the police, will I be transferred to another hospital, too?” Morgan said, a challenged look in her eyes.
“I’ll follow you, since I was involved as well.” Park said and stepped next to Morgan, his unwavering presence made Morgan feel braver and resolute in her decision.
“Actually, me too.” Melendez said after a beat. Andrew glared at all of them.
“There’s no need to make this a big deal, we don’t have to involve the police. I’ll settle it.”
“But this, in fact, involves the police, Dr. Andrews.” Morgan said to him and Andrew looked at her.
Morgan steeled herself, Park nodded at her.
“I have a restraining order against Matt Coyle, and I have my own lawyer. This is not a personal issue against you or this hospital, Sir, but a personal issue between Matt Coyle and I. With or without you, I am bringing him down, even if it means bringing it to court.” Morgan finished proudly, she felt strong and powerful, she knew this was the right thing to do. “I’m just sorry I did not have the courage to do this earlier and allowed him to continue his crimes against my co-workers.”
Andrew looked at her with renewed respect, he nodded.
“Well done, Dr. Reznick, for speaking up.” Andrew replied and by the look on everyone’s face, his reply certainly surprised them. “Sexual harassment or sexual assault issue has always been an issue in every work places, Dr. Browne and you were very brave to speak up even though you knew what happened to women who had reported similar issues. In truth, I had been a coward, I am sorry for trying to dismiss your complaints.”
“Oh.” Morgan and Park looked at each other, they expected the opposite reactions, and were ready to fight harder. “Thank you, Dr. Andrew. Thank you.”
“No, thank you. Dr. Reznick. Dr. Brown’s complaint saved the women in this hospital, but your actions will help more women in work places. Just as you said, I am only sorry I did not have the courage to do what I’m going to do earlier and allowed him to continue his actions in other hospitals.”
“What are you planning to do, Dr. Andrew?” Park asked.
“First of all, I will make sure he loses his license. However, Dr.Reznick,” Andrew looked back at Morgan, “you have this hospital's and my full support to do what you need to do, not many women have your courage.”
“Thank you, Dr. Andrew.” Morgan and Park said at the same time, and Melendez nodded respectfully at Andrew.
“You are dismissed for now, do not worry. I will do what needs to be done.” Andrew said and the two doctors nodded at him and left.
Melendez stayed behind for a while and finally spoke.
“Wow, I have to say I’m surprised.” Melendez said, “I was certain you would risk your reputation.”
“I wasn’t going to, “ Andrew looked down shamefully before looking at Melendez.
“What changed your mind?”
Andrew kept quiet for a while before speaking again, “I thought about my wife, how heartbroken she would be if she confessed that to me and I just dismissed it completely. For one moment, I wondered if she had been sexually harassed but couldn’t tell me or anyone in power because we would just ignore her. That thought broke my heart.”
Melendez nodded solemnly, “It’s men who should stand up more for the women. Not because they needed our protection or if this is some savior complex, the sad truth is that we are more likely to be taken seriously.” He looked at Andrew and the same understanding passed through them, “You did good.”
“I can’t believe it.” Morgan said to Park the moment they stepped out of the office.
“Well, believe it. I’m proud of you, Morgan. So, incredibly proud of what you just did and what you're planning to do. I stand by what I said, you have come a long way.” Park patted her arm gently.
Morgan grinned, “Alright, I’m going to go see Claire, I think she has been worried sick.”
“You mean your girlfriend?” Park bumped shoulders with Morgan playfully, both of them feeling incredibly free. Morgan blushed but did not deny it. They entered the elevator and returned back to Level 5.
When they stepped out onto the floor, they found an almost frantic blob of curly brown hair down the hallway, looking into every room, clearly searching for Morgan. Morgan’s heart grew bigger at the sight. She felt so much affection for the brunette on top of the adrenaline and happy hormones running in her veins. Almost immediately, she felt the urge to feel closer to the other woman.
“Claire!” Morgan called out and stepped towards the brunette.
Claire heard her name and turned around, frantic. Upon seeing Morgan, she almost ran to the other woman. Morgan wasn’t prepared to suddenly have Claire crash into her, hugging her tightly.
“Are you okay? I have been worried sick. Dr. Lim heard from Dr .Melendez that you filed a sexual assault to Dr. Andrew, and then I came straight here to look for you, and I couldn’t find you everywhere, I was so scared-” Claire rambled, when she heard the news, she suddenly knew what Jared felt when he felt the urge to beat up Coyle. She stopped when she felt delicate hands cupped her face and soft lips on her own. She could feel the nurses’ surprised sounds and Park’s whistle around her, but all of that didn’t matter. All that mattered was Morgan was safe, she was in her arms and that she kissed her, in front of everybody. Claire kissed back just as desperately.
They finally pulled back when they ran out of air, their foreheads against each other.
“I’m okay, Claire.” Morgan pulled back and said.
“Oh, thank god.” Claire laughed in relief, “I was so worried.”
A cough interrupted them, and they were finally aware of where they were. They sprung apart and looked around, everyone was looking at them. Even Dr Lim and Dr Melendez who arrived at the scene. They blushed.
“Well, you two, report to HR as soon as possible. Dr. Reznick, you may take the day off after this. Everyone get back to work. ” Melendez said, Lim, Park and him looked at the couple amusingly.
“Dr. Browne, report back to me after your lunch break.” Lim added,
“Yes, ma’am.” They both replied at the same time, grinning cheekily at each other.
They headed to HR immediately after, Park went back to work with Melendez after winking at both of them and wishing them luck.
“The cat’s out of the bag now. I didn’t expect that.” Claire said happily, she felt giddy after their trip to the HR.
Morgan shrugged, “They were bound to know anyway, I don’t intend to keep us as a secret.”
“Ooh, scandalous.” Claire teased, their hands brushed against each other as they walked to the cafeteria together and it was enough for now.
“They better not see this as a reason for me to lose my job.” Morgan glared at the HR department behind them as they slowly made their way back to the cafeteria.
“They won’t.” Claire said resolutely, “Are you okay?”
Morgan smiled at her, “You know what? I haven’t been better. “
Claire smiled proudly at her, “Will you tell me what happened? I want to hear it from my girlfriend.”
Morgan smiled happily, “I will. Come over to my place after your shift?”
“Of course, what are you going to do after this? I have an hour break.”
“I have to call the police.” Morgan said apologetically. Claire’s smile disappeared and she looked fierce and alarmed.
“Did he hurt you? What did he do?” She asked immediately.
“I will tell you all tonight, once I made sure he’s behind bars.” Morgan said, “I don’t think I can relax just yet.”
Claire searched Morgan, she knew things were not as simple as she thought.
“I won’t ask now, but there is something I want to ask.” She said.
“What is it?”
“Can I come with you to the police station?” Claire said simply and Morgan was speechless for the third time that day.
“You want to do that? What about work?”
“I do. And I will come back to the hospital when my break ends, but I want to be with you.” Claire said.
Morgan nodded and reached over to kiss the other woman quickly. “Go get something from the cafeteria, I’m going to make the call.” She said when they reached the floor, Morgan stayed outside the noisy cafeteria while Claire got herself some quick food. Once she paid, she quickly ate it as she walked towards the exit.
Suddenly she heard a loud commotion outside, a male voice cursed loudly and Claire all but ran out, not caring the half eaten bread in her hands.
Outside, a small crowd was slowly forming as security guards restrained an enraged Coyle, still trying to fight out of their grips. He was yelling repetitively “You owe me, you owe me!” to the other person. Claire immediately ran into the circle and stood in front of Morgan, she glared at Coyle. Coyle was more triggered, yelling slurs.
In no time, police officers were running to the scene to help out the security guards. Quickly, Coyle was cuffed and dragged away, all the while yelling curse words. Everyone around them were talking aloud, Claire turned to Morgan.
“Are you okay, baby?” Claire asked worriedly, she didn’t notice she used a pet name. Morgan’s lips quirked up though, and she nodded.
“Yes, let’s get this over with.” A police officer approached them.
“Good evening, ma’am. Are you the one who called the police? Miss Morgan Reznick?” The woman in uniform asked.
“Yes, I am. And I have more to report against that man.” Morgan nodded, Claire held her hand.
“Of course, you’re safe now. Would you like to follow us to the station?” The woman asked again.
“I’ll drive myself, thank you. He’ll remain there for a while, right?” Morgan asked, suddenly uncertain.
“He will be in the cell for 24 hours until his lawyer arrives.” The woman reassures them, after a look over to make sure Morgan was in the right state of mind to drive, the police officer nodded at them before leaving the scene.
Claire turned to her, “I’ll call Dr. Lim to give me the day off, she’ll understand.”
“Claire, you don’t have to. This is my issue.” Morgan told her, even though she was once shaken up again and she didn’t dare to look at Claire. Claire’s hand squeezing hers was her only lifeline right now. She didn’t want to be alone, she had been alone for too long. Claire looked at her properly, then nodded.
“Judging by the way your hand is clenched in mine, and the way you won’t look at me, I’m calling Dr. Lim.” Morgan looked at her, saying nothing. Claire raised their tangled hands and kissed the back of Morgan’s hand softly.
“You don’t have to be alone anymore, Morgan.”
Dr. Lim gave her the day off almost immediately when Claire asked, at this point the whole hospital heard what happened, and Lim was sympathetic.
“Take care of her, Browne.”
“I will. Thank you.” Claire ended the call and they both headed to the locker room to get their things.
They drove to the police station in their own cars, and Claire reached out for Morgan's hand the moment she got out of her car.
“More than anything.” Morgan said before hesitating, “Could you maybe wait outside? I need to do this on my own, and I don’t want you to be surprised until tonight. It’s not a good surprise.”
“Of course. Whatever you need.” Claire nodded, “I’ll be right outside.”
“Thank you.” Morgan said before taking a deep breath, this is it, the moment she had been waiting forever.
Morgan was with a police officer for half an hour, which was longer than Claire expected, it also concerned her more. When Morgan finally got out, Claire was there to pull her into a hug. Morgan relaxed into her hug.
“I did it, the fight is not over yet, but I did it.” Morgan choked, and Claire hushed her softly, stroking her head.
“You did good, baby, you did it.”
“Let’s go home.”
Claire could see Morgan visibly relieved the moment they entered Morgan’s small apartment, she was glad to see it and promised herself to take good care of the other woman today.
“Do you have a bathtub?” She asked softly as she hung her coat and reached out to help Morgan out of hers, the other woman looked drained. Her movements were slow and heavy.
“Huh?” Morgan looked at her, eyes slightly hazy. Claire looked at her fondly.
“You know what, go lie down on the couch and take a nap. I’ll take care of everything else.” Claire gently led the blonde to her couch and gently laid her down. Morgan was so tired she was completely compliant, she felt asleep the moment her head hit the pillow. Claire looked at her fondly and gently pushed her blonde locks out of her face. She kissed Morgan’s cheek softly before going to the kitchen to survey what she could make for lunch. She decided on Mac & Cheese, her movements slow and steady. She wanted to let Morgan rest as much as possible.
When the dish was finally set to warm in the oven, Claire took the liberty to take a quick shower and changed into her extra change of clothes she took from her locker. It was a simple T-shirt and leggings. Then she filled the bathtub with scalding hot water along with some chamomile and lavender drop she found on the countertop, the water temperature will be just right when Morgan woke up.
When everything was ready more than an hour later, she gently woke the blonde, still sleeping peacefully on the couch.
“Hey, Morgan? Wake up, babe.” Morgan’s sleepy, confused blue eyes are now one of her favorite things in the world.
“You’re at your own home.” Morgan rubbed her eyes and sat up, she looked around in confusion and looked back at Claire.
“Oh god, it wasn’t a dream?” Morgan whispered, Claire shook her head and let the blonde process it alone in her head. After a while, Morgan nodded.
“I made lunch and prepared you a bath, which do you want to do first?”
“You didn’t have to do that!” Morgan said, feeling embarrassed. She half glared, half looked at Claire in exasperation. “I’m not invalid!”
Claire was taken aback, “Nobody said you were, Morgan. I just wanted to take care of you, did I step out of line? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to..” Claire apologized, eyes wide. She knew Morgan was a very private person, and probably wasn’t comfortable with other people touching her things.
Morgan shook her head and her look softened immediately, “No, sorry. Thank you, Claire. I’m just not used to anyone taking care of me, I guess. I didn’t mean to let out my own issues on you.” Morgan groaned at herself.
“Cut yourself some slack, everyone has issues.” Claire smiled, “Does a bath sound good to you right now?”
“It sounds amazing.”
When Morgan got out of the bath, she was feeling well rested and relaxed. Claire was in the kitchen plating lunch for them.
“Feeling better?” Claire asked when she saw her, Morgan was leaning against the doorframe, looking at her softly.
“Yes, thank you. You really didn’t have to do all this, it looks delicious. I didn’t know you knew how to cook.” Morgan sat down, she didn't realize how hungry she was until she saw all the food.
“I kind of have to teach myself how to cook growing up.” Claire sat next to Morgan and gave her a knowing look. Morgan nodded and said nothing.
The first bite had her basically moaning, “Oh my god, this is so good.”
Claire looked at while biting her lips, trying not to laugh. “That is not how I imagined making you moan out loud for the first time.”
“Oh, shut up!” Morgan laughed in disbelief, she swallowed and smirked, “So you imagined making me moan, huh, St. Claire?”
Claire smirked back, “Like you haven’t.” She raised her eyebrow challengingly as she licked her spoon suggestively.
Morgan rolled her eyes, but her blush betrayed her.
“Oh shut up.”
Claire stayed until after dinner, mainly because she was waiting for the talk Claire promised her. She spent the day chilling with Morgan watching a movie, bantering and talking about their med school and residency experience. They were settling in the couch once again when there a comfortable silence settled on them,
Suddenly, Claire’s phone vibrated with an incoming text. Claire took her phone to check and saw that Park texted.
Park: Heard you went back with Morgan after what happened at the cafeteria, is she home safe?
Claire smiled, “Park texted to check up on you.”
Morgan smiled affectionately, but it quickly dimmed as that single text just reminded her what happened today.
“He’s a good guy.” The blonde said, “He probably texted you to give me some space.”
“He is, I’m glad you have him.” Claire said as she updated Park on their situation.
“Me too.” Morgan said and waited for Claire to put down her phone and look at her. Morgan took a deep breath, “He has been with me since my first year of residency but the thing between Coyle and I happened way before that. I was only 16.” Morgan said while her fingers played with the loose thread of her pillow.
“16?!” Claire exclaimed.
Morgan nodded and continued, “My parents are both famous artists, and my sister inherited from them and had great artistic talents as well. I was always the black sheep of the family, I wasn’t taken seriously. While my parents were fawning over my sister’s multiple medals in drawing, sculpting, painting competitions, I was winning my own medals in science fairs and science competitions. I knew I wanted to join med school since I was a kid, but of course my parents were unsupportive. I would beg and beg them too, and was more relentless as ever when my results came out when I was 16.”
Claire reached over to hold Morgan’s hand, and Morgan squeezed gratefully.
“That’s when Matt Coyle came into my life, he’s a son to one of my dad’s close friends. He was a resident at San Jose then too, he was 26. My dad’s friend suggested him to let both of us meet, said that he could be a good mentor to me, and my parents readily agreed. He was a good mentor, and I, well-” Morgan looked up at the ceiling and shook her head.
“I hate to admit this, but I was 16 and craving for any form of attention. Matt Coyle, being 10 years older than me seemed like a great substitute for my parents back then. He was handsome, smart and seemed so wise then. So I followed his footstep to medical school, and then a surgical resident in San Jose. He was manipulative however, though I didn’t know that with how inexperienced I was at relationships. He would constantly tell me how good he was to be mentoring me, then I wouldn’t be where I was without him, he would-” Claire’s voice broke.
“You don’t have to continue if you don’t want to, Morgan.” Claire said softly, her heart breaking for the other woman.
“No, I want to. I never told this to anyone other than the police just now, please listen?” Morgan looked at her, and Claire understood immediately. She knew what it felt like to be 16 and craving for attention from any parental figure in her life, so she seek validation from her high school teachers almost desperately. She knew what it felt like to have a manipulative figure, namely her mother, in her life, constantly reminding her that she owed her life to her, that without her, Claire would have starved and died on the street. All these guilt trips made it almost impossible for Claire to leave Breeze for good. Maybe Morgan and her were more similar than she thought.
“Of course,” Claire nodded encouragingly.
“He would touch me inappropriately but I did not dare to say anything.” Morgan continued, “ I was afraid to lose the only relationship I had in my life. And after two years of being groomed by him, I was afraid that I would be hopeless if he left me. When I finally had the courage to tell my parents at 18, they didn’t believe me.”
“Oh, Morgan…” Claire said sadly.
Morgan shrugged, “They believed Coyle more than me, why wouldn’t they? He was 28, a stable, smart, doctor-to-be while I was just an 18 year old young adult who was just seeking attention. When I entered med school, I didn’t report anything because he threatened to throw me out of school. Thinking back, he actually didn’t have that kind of power as a resident. When I finished med school and was more than happy to start out in a hospital far away from him, he was a rising star at San Jose Hospital and he scouted me, said great things to the president about me, when the letter came, I had no choice but to accept.”
Morgan looked at Claire, “Then I was a resident at San Jose Hospital, and I met Park. I distrusted him, as I distrusted everyone around me. He did not push to be my friend of anything, but he was my partner throughout my residency under Coyle. Park had exceptional observation skills and noticed Coyle’s abusive personality towards me immediately, he urged me to report but I was afraid, terribly so. I was finally a surgical resident at a respectable hospital, and this time if I were to say anything, Coyle did have the power of throwing me out. I couldn’t risk it”
“That’s when I heard about you, Dr.Browne.” Morgan bumped her shoulder with Claire.
“What? Me?” Claire looked confused.
Morgan rolled her eyes in fake annoyance, “There she is, Dr. Claire Brown, brave, kind St.Claire. Just after an encounter with Colye, she had the courage to immediately report to the hospital. I remembered feeling all kinds of emotions that day, you saved my life but I was also so angry and irrationally irritated by you, even though I never met you.” Morgan laughed without humor.
“Why? I’m not following.” Claire looked more confused than ever.
Morgan shook her head, “It was stupid, but I was irrational. It took 2 years of being assaulted and abused by Coyle for me to even dream of speaking up and then I failed, and I had to endure many years after that dealing with him and I still couldn’t find the courage. There you were, just one encounter and you did it. I was angry at you because I wished I was you, I thought it wasn’t unfair that you had it easy. That is why when I finally met you, I was extra snarky and mean to you, it was irrational and uncalled for, I know.”
“Wow, It all makes sense now.” Claire gaped at her, “You were such a bitch to me!”
Morgan smiled apologetic at her, “Sorry. But that was before I got to know you, but I didn’t like you for a while, to be honest.”
“Wow,” Claire said again, “Should I be worried, do you like me now?”
Morgan’s only response was to pull Claire into a passionate kiss that left them breathless afterwards.
“What do you think?” Morgan said, eyebrows rose challengingly.
Claire chuckled, “Okay, message received. Continue, please. Tell me all about why you disliked me.”
Morgan rolled her eyes playfully, “You were the opposite of me, you were so annoyingly kind, empathetic and just so nice.”
“Oh, I’m sorry all my greatest qualities were the ones you hated.” Claire teased, and mocked pulling her hand out of Morgan’s, but the blonde quickly pulled her back.
“But well, it seemed that the opposite attracts after all. I didn’t even know when I started liking you more than a friendly way, the thought was so impossible it did not even cross my mind, to be honest. But it did, and I’m glad it did.”
“I’m glad too.” Claire grinned.
“Without you or park’s constant support, I wouldn’t have done what I did today. So, thank you, Claire.”
“You’re welcome. Have I told you how proud I am of you today? For reporting to not just the hospital, standing up for yourself against Andrew but telling the police and lastly, opening up to me?” Claire said seriously. “You’re amazing, Morgan Reznick.”
Morgan blushed before a yawn stretched her face.
“Come one, I think it’s time for you to sleep, you had a long day.” Claire stood up and pulled Morgan with her.
“Do you want to spend the night?” Morgan asked hesitatingly.
“Only if you want me to.” Claire looked at her.
“I do.” Morgan said firmly. That night, the two women fell asleep in each other’s arms and Morgan had never felt safer or free in her life.