DISCLAIMER: All "ER" characters and institutions are
the property of Warner Bros., ConstantC Productions
and Amblin Television. This is written strictly for
entertainment value, no infringement of copyright or
ownership is intended, and nobody is making a profit
on this piece. As always, any errors in continuity,
characterization, or common sense are entirely my own
Scotty Says: A combination indirectly inspired by Mika Epstein. As usual, DON'T READ if you're offended by f/f slash, but I hope you'll enjoy this anyway! This is not intended, in any way, as accurate or intelligent commentary on the subject of sexual harassment. The situation is extremely contrived, for the sake of dramatic license. (Although "dramatic" may be a rather pretentious term for such a cheap sex fic!)
Takes place late Season 5, after "The Storm."
Harassment, by Scott J. Welles
Maggie Doyle heard the doors to the lounge open and looked up from her paperwork. Her eyes met Elizabeth Corday's, and there was a moment of intense discomfort between them. Then Maggie's eyes returned to her reports and she made a point of ignoring the surgeon.
"I'm sorry," the taller woman said, "I didn't realize there was anyone here."
"Well, there is," Maggie said, flatly.
"I won't disturb you," Elizabeth said, "I just need some coffee..." She went to the pot and poured herself a cup.
"Need some fucking balls, is what you need," Maggie muttered darkly.
Elizabeth had just opened the door to leave, but her spine stiffened at Maggie's words. She turned back to the resident and looked at her coldly. "I beg your pardon?"
Maggie hadn't meant her words to be audible, but she didn't bother to retract them. "You heard me," she said, simply.
There was a moment of brittle silence before Elizabeth let out a sigh and ventured back into the room. "Look...Dr. Doyle," she began, "I don't blame you for still being upset with me, over my lack of support for your harassment suit. However, for better or for worse, the issue has been settled."
"Try for worse," Maggie snarled.
"As I understand it," Elizabeth went on, as if Maggie hadn't spoken, "Dr. Romano ended up writing you a much more accurate review. Quite a favorable one, in fact. Or have I been misinformed?"
"That's not the point!"
"Then may I ask what the point is, precisely?"
Maggie stood, facing the Englishwoman. "The point is, it's no thanks to you that things worked out okay. When the time came to make a stand, at least Weaver went to bat for me. All you did was cover your own ass!"
Elizabeth's tone grew even colder. "Not that it's any of your business, but that's not entirely--"
"It's every woman's business when we don't support each other!" Maggie interrupted, her fury rising. "You sent the message that we're just gonna lie down and take it whenever some asshole decides to judge us unfairly!"
Elizabeth's jaw tensed, as though she was biting back her words.
"What, you've got something to say to me?" Maggie goaded her, "Spit it out, already! Or are you too afraid to say it?"
Elizabeth remained silent.
"I thought you were stronger than that," Maggie sneered. "You can stand up for yourself at an M&M conference full of surgeons, but when the personal shit come down, you're wussy." She shook her head in contempt. "Tell you what. You're a surgeon, maybe the next patient you operate on, you should borrow some of his guts, since you've none of your own."
"Really? Well, I was about to make a suggestion of my own." Elizabeth looked her straight in the eye. "I was going to suggest that you either learn to curb your temper... or perhaps grow yourself some thicker skin." She said the last with a barb in her voice.
WHACK! Maggie's palm stung as it impacted across Elizabeth's face. The surgeon was rocked back with a sharp gasp.
Realizing what she'd just done, Maggie felt a sudden wave of guilt and embarrassment. She hadn't raised a hand to anyone in anger since she was twelve, and the blow had occurred without conscious choice. "Elizabeth, I'm s--"
Her apology was abruptly cut off as Elizabeth's right hand caught her by the jaw and slammed her against the wall with unexpected force. She felt her right wrist caught up in Elizabeth's other hand, and it was also pinned. Years of self-defense classes should have brought a countermove to mind, but her own shame at lashing out had dulled her reflexes, and Elizabeth's hold caught her by surprise. Wide-eyed, she stared into Elizabeth's face, inches away.
"Now let's have something perfectly clear, shall we?" Elizabeth grated at her, "I can only tell you I'm sorry so many times and in so many ways. I have tried my best to be courteous and supportive. But I see no reason to put up with physical abuse, from you or anyone else. Do we understand each other so far?"
Maggie nodded, timidly. She could practically taste the Englishwoman's breath.
"Now, I suppose I could go running to management and raise a complaint against you for striking me. However, I have always preferred to handle personal conflicts in person. That goes for physical conflicts as well, if you insist on our having one. Are you still with me?"
"Good. Now let me conclude this in terms even you violence-prone Americans should be able to understand clearly..." Elizabeth leaned closer, the tip of her nose almost touching the other woman's, as she hissed, "Don't fuck with me, little girl, or I'll kick your pretty ass."
With that, she released her hold and stormed out of the room.
Maggie let her go, frozen by a melange of emotions. Among them, embarrassment and remorse at having struck a co-worker, fear - she didn't mind admitting that she was intimidated by the taller woman, at least to herself - and, most curiously...
After her shift, Maggie glowered about the incident over a beer at Monica's, a lesbian bar she occasionally frequented. Damn that woman, anyway, she thought. Damn her for backing out of the investigation, damn her for being so stuffy and proper, and damn her for being so goddamn hard-assed.
The problem, Maggie decided some drinks later, was that Elizabeth Corday just didn't take the whole harassment issue as seriously as she should. Maybe they're just like that in Britain, she thought. Old school habits, and all that. Then again, maybe she's never been harassed herself.
Maybe I should show her what it feels like...
The more she drank, the more appealing this prospect became. But it raised the question of how to harass Elizabeth in a way that would make her point effectively. Maggie couldn't threaten or influence her job, of course, but maybe if she were to show the surgeon a little...unwanted attention? Come on to her, a bit? Not a directly aggressive tack, like their argument today; Corday would be prepared for that. But a more subtle approach might do the trick...
The next day nearly passed without the two women encountering each other, but Maggie finally managed to run into her. As the taller woman exited the cafeteria, her attention already deep into a stack of files she carried, Maggie fell in beside her. Their collision sent Elizabeth's files scattering over the tile floor.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Maggie exclaimed, reaching her hands out to steady Elizabeth, and letting her hands linger a bit longer than necessary on her hips. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm quite all right, thank you," said Elizabeth. Her voice was flustered but civil.
"I'm really sorry," Maggie oozed, stooping to help her gather the files. "I should have been more careful. You sure you're okay?"
"Yes, really I am." Elizabeth seemed to be caught between politeness, anger, and embarrassment. "Please don't give it a second thought."
They stood up, Maggie handing her the last of the files. As Elizabeth took them, Maggie made a point of letting her eyes linger on the other woman's lips. "Glad to hear it," she smiled sweetly.
Real smooth, Doyle, she told herself. Strictly schoolyard stuff here. You want to dip her pigtails in the inkwell while you're at it?
"Actually, Dr. Doyle, I'm glad I ran into you," Elizabeth said, though she was obviously uncomfortable.
"Oh yeah?" Maggie replied with a devilish grin. "You want to do it again?"
"Ah, no, thank you," she stuttered, momentarily taken aback.
Not so cool when you don't have someone pinned, are you? Maggie thought. She put a hand on Elizabeth's back and steered her over to the side of the corridor, out of the way of people passing by. Without removing the hand, she leaned closer, so they could talk more privately. "So what's up? And call me Maggie, okay?"
"Maggie. All right." Corday's nervousness was clearly visible. She looked like she wanted to take a step back from the resident, but couldn't do so without seeming rude. "About what happened yesterday..."
"Mm-hmm?" Maggie kept smiling brightly, giving no sign that she remembered their earlier conflict. Let the bitch sweat about it, she decided.
Elizabeth took a breath and composed herself. "I really feel that I owe you an apology..." she began.
"Oh, hey, don't worry about it," Maggie replied, breezily. "I had it coming, slapping you like that. I had no right to do that."
"Yes, that's certainly true, but it still doesn't justify my behaving like a character in some low-budget women's prison film." Elizabeth ventured a rueful smile.
"Hey, don't knock 'em, I love those." She winked surreptitiously at the surgeon. "Don't you?"
"Listen," Maggie said, pressing her advantage, "if you really want to make it up to me, how about you buy me a drink tonight?" Five bucks says this creeps her out, Maggie thought to herself.
"I..." Elizabeth dropped her eyes to the files in her hands, then said, "Yes, I think that would be good..."
Hmm. Either she's braver than I thought, or just too dense to know when she's being flirted with. "Great. I know just the place, you'll love it..."
The crowd at Monica's was lively without being packed. Elizabeth hesitated briefly at the entrance, but Maggie took her hand and led her inside.
"Well, this is certainly interesting," the surgeon spoke above the music, a note of ambivalence in her voice.
"Yeah, I come here all the time," Maggie told her. "So what do you drink?"
"Oh, ah, whatever you're having," Elizabeth told her.
"Two drafts," Maggie ordered from the bar. She turned to find Elizabeth eyeing the pool table. "You play?"
"A little," the Englishwoman replied, uncertainly.
"Great. Rack 'em up!" Maggie set their drinks on a nearby table and grabbed a cue.
"Oh, I'm really not very good..."
"Good, I hate to lose," Maggie replied, honestly.
Elizabeth took up a cue with only a slight hesitancy.
Maggie broke, called stripes, and sunk two balls before deliberately missing. "Your shot, babe," she said with a grin. If just being in a lesbian bar had Elizabeth off-balance, let's see how putting her in the spotlight increases things.
"All right, here goes..." Elizabeth hefted the cue and leaned awkwardly over the table, lining up her shot. Her stance obviously left something to be desired, Maggie noted.
"Here, lemme help," Maggie offered, stepping close behind her. She put her hands over Elizabeth's, guiding them to better grips on the cue, aiming over Elizabeth's shoulder. This position brought the two women into full-body contact, back-to-front, as Maggie leaned them into the shot. Her breasts flattened against Elizabeth's back, and she let her breath tickle the other woman's ear. "Easy stroke," she cooed.
The ball sunk.
"Like that, then?" Elizabeth asked, not meeting her eyes. "Thank you."
"My pleasure," Maggie purred, not stepping back.
"Excuse me," Elizabeth said, coolly, "I need to get round the table for my next shot."
"Sure." Maggie let her slide by, but just barely. She let her palm pass over the other woman's buttock in the process. If she doesn't take this for a come-on, Maggie thought, she's gotta be blind, deaf, and brain-dead.
Elizabeth seemed to be avoiding looking at Maggie, which Maggie took as a sign that she was having some effect. With any luck, she'd get Elizabeth sufficiently agitated that the surgeon would finally call her on it, telling her how uncomfortable Maggie was making her, and asking her to stop. At that point, Maggie would take great pleasure in replying, "Oh, so you mean you're feeling a little... HARASSED?!! You SEE how it feels?!" Maggie looked forward to that, and to the mortified expression that was bound to appear on Elizabeth's face. But they hadn't reached that point yet.
Elizabeth lined up her next shot carefully, as Maggie stepped deliberately into her line of view, across the table. "Now that you've got the idea," she drawled, "how about a little wager...?"
"What did you have in mind?" Elizabeth asked without looking at her.
Maggie leaned over the table, giving her opponent a good look down the low-cut neckline she'd worn with the evening in mind. "What are you willing to bet?"
Elizabeth glanced up, clearly distracted by Maggie's body language (or perhaps just by her body?) and replied, "How about, eh, a dollar a ball?" She fidgeted nervously with the cue.
Maggie leaned even further, propping her face on her elbows. "Make it five, and you're on," she said in her best bedroom voice.
The taller woman was obviously feeling quite disconcerted by the attention, which thrilled Maggie no end. "All right, if you like," she responded vaguely.
"Er, you're blocking my hole, I'm afraid," the redhead diffidently pointed out.
"Pocket," Maggie gently corrected her, slowly straightening with her best 'come hither' smile. "It's called a pocket."
"Pocket, yes, well..." Elizabeth returned her concentration to the table with what appeared to be extreme difficulty.
Ooh, darlin', Maggie thought venomously, before the night is through, I'm gonna leave you high and dry with your wallet empty and your head thoroughly fucked-with. Show you why you shouldn't mess with a Doyle.
Even as the thought came to her, a little voice from deep in the back of her mind nagged at her. Aren't you ashamed of yourself? it said. You're going out of your way to make this woman feel bad, just for spite.
Yeah, that's the point, she thought back at it.
But isn't that the same thing Romano did to you?
She had a mental comeback ready, but that suggestion made her pause.
Perhaps she should go easier on Elizabeth, she thought guiltily. She'd started off liking the British woman when she first arrived at County. Maggie had often tried to be friends with her, not even taking it personally when Elizabeth once responded to her words of encouragement by telling her to shut up. Temper aside, she'd shown herself to be a pretty cool person. How many surgeons do you meet who could dive into a gunshot trauma and enjoy a friendly discussion about the 9mm semi-auto vs. the AK-47 while doing so? And damn, that woman had a great smile.
Maggie was just deciding that maybe she should forget the whole thing and be nicer to Elizabeth, when...
CRACK! The ball sank into the pocket. Then, CRACK! Another. And, CRACK! A third. Elizabeth pivoted slightly, bringing the cue to bear with the ease of an old pro, and CRACK! sent the 8-ball home.
Maggie's jaw dropped, watching as Elizabeth proceeded to clear the table, wielding the cue the way Eric Clapton handled a guitar. CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!
Elizabeth completed her circuit of the table and ended up by Maggie's side. "Beg pardon, Maggie, you're in my path."
"Wait, never mind." Elizabeth reached both hands around from behind Maggie and, as if holding the Irishwoman in her arms, CRACK! sank the final ball. "I believe that's my game," she said, sweetly.
There was some laughter, applause and hoots of approval from some women who'd stopped to watch the game. Maggie felt her face reddening as she realized she'd just been hustled expertly.
With great stiffness, she pulled the money from her pocket, counted it off, and held it out to Elizabeth, who still pressed up behind her. The Englishwoman plucked it neatly from her hand, said "Thank-you!" in a much-too-cute voice, and pecked her condescendingly on the cheek before spinning away to order another round at the bar.
That's it, she thought, I'm gonna get that smartassed bitch for this.
The little voice appeared again. Now, now, she beat you fair and squ--
She conjured up her .357 magnum and shot the little voice dead.
"I'm sorry to cut the evening short," Elizabeth said as they stepped out into the night air, "but I'm scheduled for surgery rather early tomorrow. Hope you understand."
"Oh, sure, duty calls," Maggie replied as amiably as she could.
The surgeon hailed a cab, which pulled over promptly. "I had a lovely time, though. And I don't mean that as gloating."
"Nah, don't worry. You bought the drinks, after all."
"It seemed only sportsmanlike." Elizabeth opened the cab door, and held out a hand. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow, I guess."
Maggie looked at her hand, wondering whether she should shake it and just write the evening off, or play her final card. What the hell, she thought, in for a penny, in for a pound.
She stepped into Elizabeth's space, looped an arm around her neck, and kissed her soundly. Their lips crushed together as Maggie's tongue glided along the roof of the surgeon's mouth. It wasn't a tentative, exploring kiss, it was an 'I want to rip your clothes off and have you right here and now' kiss.
Elizabeth stood stock-still in her embrace, and Maggie neither noticed nor cared how the cab driver reacted. She let the kiss linger, and then pulled away very, very slowly.
She was rewarded by a stunned expression on Elizabeth's face. Maggie had never seen her so flustered, even after working round-the-clock. Her mouth remained open, but no words came out.
Maggie stepped back and shook the hand, which had remained outstretched all through the lip-lock. "Goodnight, Elizabeth," she said casually. "Sleep well."
"Er, yes..." Elizabeth managed a tight nod before getting into the cab and closing the door.
Maggie watched it drive away, then turned to stroll back to where her BMW was parked. That, she thought, was worth it just for the look on her face.
They didn't see each other again for two days. Maggie didn't know if this was because Elizabeth was avoiding her or because their workloads just didn't interact during that time. The latter was always possible, but she suspected it was a combination of the two. Having rattled the Englishwoman's calm demeanor once, Maggie decided to cool it and settle for that victory, however small.
Actually, she was beginning to regret her actions, seeing them in retrospect as rather petty and mean-spirited. Perhaps Elizabeth could come off as rather superior at times, she reflected, but it didn't seem like she meant any harm to anyone. In fact, except for her uncharacteristically cowardly decision not to support Maggie's suit against Romano, her behavior had always struck Maggie as admirable. Maybe she didn't deserve to be embarrassed the other night. True, she'd humiliated Maggie at the pool table, but Maggie had walked into that one. That parting kiss, she decided, had been a rather cheap shot.
An arriving trauma - motorcyclist vs. humvee - drew her attention away from the subject, even when she found herself working alongside Elizabeth Corday herself. After some rather intense procedures, she watched Elizabeth accompany the gurney up to the OR, then returned to her paperwork.
When she saw Elizabeth downstairs again, she asked, "Hey, how's the Wheelie King?"
Elizabeth rubbed her brow tiredly. "Stable," she replied. "I think he'll keep the leg, though I'd like to know what possessed him to ride without a helmet."
Maggie nodded. "People do some stupid things, all right. Then again, that's what pays our salaries, right?"
"That's one way to look at it." The surgeon smiled ruefully.
There was a pause.
"About the other--"
"You know, I--"
They stopped, and chuckled.
"You go first."
Maggie paused, wondering if Elizabeth would buy the same 'you looked so cute in the moonlight' line that Amanda Donohoe had used on 'L.A. Law'. "I think I had a little too much to drink that night," she ventured, aware that she'd barely touched her beers. Certainly not enough to get her drunk, as she knew from experience.
"Yeah, I wanted to apologize. I mean, I don't know what I was thinking, you know..."
"Kissing me?" Elizabeth lowered her voice.
"Yeah. I mean, not that you're not kissable, but...oh, jeez." She wondered if there was room in her mouth for the other foot.
Elizabeth took pity on her. "Why don't I go, then you can decide what you're trying to say, shall I?"
The surgeon hugged herself, gripping her opposite elbows. "It seems, lately, that we end up overreacting every time we encounter each other," she began. "This has been a source of some concern for me."
"Don't blame you." That seemed more than fair, given that Maggie had been the one to get physical, both times.
"I've been...hesitant to approach you about it, given that level of unpredictability, but I think we need to resolve this, if only for the sake of our professional relationship." Her body and voice were stiff, denoting her discomfort.
Here it was, Maggie realized. Elizabeth was going to lay it on her, telling her how angry she was. Maggie had already decided to let the matter drop, but if Elizabeth needed to give her some grievance, the least Maggie should do is let her vent. "I agree," she said.
"Good. Very well, then..." Elizabeth took a breath and met Maggie's eyes. "I wonder if you'd like to have dinner with me."
"You have every right to feel that w--what...?"
"Dinner," Elizabeth repeated. "I'd like you to come to dinner, and we can talk. Is that all right?"
Maggie went blank.