Beyond Friendship


AUTHOR: Celina
EMAIL: ccci@nautilus.com.br
CATEGORY: MG/SL romance
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: "The right thing"; "Don't ask, don't tell"; "Ghosts"  and "Fear of Flying".
ARCHIVE: Please!! Just let me know where
DISCLAIMER: As much as I wanted, I do not own Mark and Susan and the rest of the Er characters. 'Cause if I did ...
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story takes place right after the third season episode "Fear of Flying". It has nothing to do with the other fics I have written. This is just one "how it could have been" story about Mark and Susan. I hope you like it. Any comments e-mail me! ; )
SUMMARY: Mark and Susan realize their true feelings for each other, but her decision to leave Chicago might change everything...



I call you up whenever things go wrong

You're always there You are my shoulder to cry on

I can't believe it took me so long To take the forbidden step

Is this something that I might regret Nothing ventured nothing gained

A lonely heart that can't be tamed I'm hoping that you feel the same

This is something that I can't forget I thought that we would just be friends Things will never be the same again It's just the beginning it's not the end Things will never be the same again It's not a secret anymore

Now we've opened up the door Starting tonight and from now on

We'll never, never be the same again

Now I know that we were close before I'm glad I realised

I need you so much more And I don't care what every one will say

It's about you and me And we'll never be the same again

But sometimes it seems completely forbidden

To discover those feelings that we kept so well hidden

When there's no comptetiton And you render my condition

Though improbable it's not impossible For a love that could be unstoppable Everyday situations They start to simplify

So things will never

be the same between you and I

We intertwined our life forces and now we're unified

NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN _MEL C.

County General Hospital

Dr. Susan Lewis was in the doctors lounge, getting ready to leave. It had been a long and hard day. She had gone on a helicopter ride-along earlier to treat the victims of a car accident. It was really difficult because of her fear of flying. She was shaking when the helicopter took off, but luckly she wasn’t alone. Beside her was her best friend Mark Greene. He tried to calm her down and helped her to get through that scary situation. She was glad to have him by her side. She knew she could count on him anytime she needed. She knew he would always support her.

Susan rubbed her eyes when she remembered the weird tension between them both during the day. She couldn’t act naturally when she was close to him anymore. Like if there was something changing inside of her, but she didn’t know what it was yet. She had caught him gazing her some time earlier, and unconsciously she had done the same after. But she couldn’t avoid it. There was something about him that made her feel....different. Susan stopped and tried to make this thoughts go away. "Mark is my best friend and only that" she tried to tell herself. She didn’t want to screw their friendship by pondering if something more could happen. It made her feel bad to have this "forbidden" thoughts. She was putting on her coat when Mark entered the room.

_Hey _ he said walking towards his locker

_Are you leaving too? _ she asked

_Yeah, I thought this day was never going to end.

_Any news about the baby Herlingly ?

_She is still in the ICU, in critical condition.

_Sometimes life isn’t fair..

_That’s true.

Susan started to walk away. He looked at her and asked in a impulse:

_Uh, Susan....

_Yeah _ she turned around to look at him

_Do you wanna grab a bite to eat? A pizza or something? _ he asked

Susan stood in silence for a second, trying to think clearly. As much interesting this offers was, she was confused enough for that day. She figured it might be safer to decline it, and have some time alone to think about everything that was happening.

_Uh, can we do this another time? I’m kind of beat! It has been a long day...

_Oh, sure. It’s ok.

_Ok, so I’ll see you tomorrow _ she gave him a quick smile

_Yeah, see ya.

Susan left the room and Mark stood watching the door slam. He was worried about her. He knew it had been a hard day for her. She had to fly, a really stressing experience for her. And also she had envolved herself too much with the Herlingly’s, the family they treated of the accident, and things weren’t good for them. The little boy was in the ICU after a surgery and the baby girl was crashing down.

Mark and Susan have gotten closer and closer in the past few months. They were spending a lot of time together, specially because they’re both lonely. Mark had gotten divorced and barely saw her daughter and Susan had given up little Susie, her niece. She had been raising her for several months, but her sister Chloe came back and took her to another city. This made her depressed for a while. Mark tried to cheer her up, but he knew that was little he could do. And now, together they tried to make their lives less empty. "Together as friends" he remarked. But for how long? He knew there was something else going on between them. And it wouldn’t take too long before one of them actually realized that. Everytime they were together, he tried not to think about her in another way. They have been friends for four years, but only now he got stunned by her beauty. Since she had asked him to go on vacation with her, he started to consider their relationship as something "unclear". He didn’t go with her to Hawai, because of a big misunderstanding, and this was something he regretted untill now.

He walked to the his car as he remembered that day’s events. He tried to make her feel comfortable in the chopper, tried to make that situation less painful for Susan. He wanted to protect her. That was why he offered to go in the second chopper ride instead of her. But she said she would be fine going by herself, and gently kissed his cheek before going in the helicopter. In that moment he felt his heart race, his energy fade away and his body tremble. This was the closest physical contact he ever had with her. It wasn’t that big deal, but for him it was something he would remember for a long time.

Mark shook his head and tried to clear his thoughts. But he couldn’t take her out of his mind. He didn’t want to admit he was falling in love with her, after all, this could change everything, and not in a good way. He was afraid of lose the strong friendship they have built for many years, but it was impossible to deny his feelings for her. She was a incredible woman: strong, honest, funny, smart, reliable and very beautiful. Exactly the kind of woman he was looking for, exactly the kind of woman he was needing. Mark start driving and turned on the radio.

"She’s all, she’s all I ever had

It’s the way she makes me feel

It’s the only thing that’s real

It’s the way she understands

She’s my lover, she’s my friend

And when I look into her eyes

It’s the way I feel inside

Like the man I want to be

She’s all I ever need"

Without thinking, Mark turned it up and started singing the lyrics. He didn’t know them very well, but either way, he tried to follow. Those words seemed to penetrate his body and soul, reaching into his heart. Of course, the only thing he could relate with them was her, Susan. "It’s the way she makes me feel.." he repeated to himself as a sudden realization came to his mind. "..when I look into her eyes/ It’s the way I feel inside.." he stopped and felt his body tremble and his hands sweating.

_Oh, my God. That can’t be true.... _ he said quietly.

Mark took a deep breath and tried to assure himself it wasn’t true, that he didn’t love her. "I can’t love her, she is my friend" he thought. "That would be wrong" he kept thinking.

_Maybe I’m just mixing up my feelings.

He shook his head and convinced himself not to think about these things that night. He was tired and just needed to sleep a little. He figured in the next morning he would be more relaxed and he you be able to deal with his real feelings. So he drove home and tried to sleep, but those thoughts kept running through his mind. After some time, he finally dozed off.

Susan entered her apartment and tossed the keys on the table. She took off her coat and headed for the bathroom. Some minutes later she was relaxing in a refreshing bubble bath. Susan rested her head on the tub and let her mind drift back to early that day. The first thing she remembered was getting in the chopper and grabbing tightly on Mark’s knee during the ride. She smiled when she remembered that scene.

"Susan take a look! It’s beautiful!" he said looking over the chopper’s window.

"Susan, what are you doing? "he asked as he saw her with her eyes closed and breathing soundly

"I’m hyperventilating. Leave me alone." _ she said refusing to open her eyes.

Susan knew her fear of flying was something that only held her back to do different things. She remembered the trip to Hawai, and how she never made it to Hawai. All because of her silly fear of flying. She also remembered when she invited Mark to go with her.

"And besides in....48 hours and 18 minutes I will be in..." she said cheerfully to Mark while they both worked in the admission’s desk.

"Don’t say it!" he replied

"Maui, Maui, Maui"

"........I don’t have a day off since Christmas"

"Why don’t you come with me?" she asked almost reflexively.

"Yeah, right....." he looked at her in disbelief "you’re kidding, right?!"

Susan sighed as she remembered that situation. They were interrupted by the paramedics and he said they would talk later. She was afraid of how that invitation might have sounded. The whole day was full of misunderstandings and she turned out taking that invitation back. Laying back on the bath tub, she started wondering how it might have been if he had gone with her. They would probably get to Hawai, ‘cause he would encourage her to get through the whole flight. She finished his bath and went to her bedroom. She put a big T-shirt and her pajamas paints and layed on the bed, staring at the ceiling. She tossed and turned on the bed for a while, trying to sleep, but there was so much in her mind. Suddenly her thoughts drifted back one more time.

"You’re a doctor, you’re not in a competition. You’re just getting a little obsessed" she told Mark at the Halloween party a few weeks ago in the Jazz Note. He was mumbling about Kerry and how she wanted to compete with him.

"No, I’m not" he replied

"Ok, a little myopic then" she said taking a sip of her drink

"What?"

"Your wife dirvoced, you hardly see Rachel, this job is all you care about. There is other stuff out there, Mark. I know you don’t have it now, but I just hate to see you get so caught up in that" she said.

Susan turned around and put her face against the pillow. But it was impossible to forget the time they danced together later that same night.

"You’re probably too tired of your trip to dance...." he started to said

"Yeah, kind of..."

"So maybe later..."

"I guess I’m up for it" she said

They exchanged looks and headed for the dance floor. She felt a little awkward at first, but it felt good to be close to him. He held her hand and pulled her close and they ended up dancing to a soft, sweet ballad.

Susan couldn’t help a smile. But she soon realized the meaning of all that. Why was she thinking about this situations all of the sudden? Why she couldn’t get Mark out of her mind? Susan prefered not to go deeper into her feelings, it might be dangerous. She didn’t want to make some stupid conclusion of something that seemed so improbable. She covered herself with the blanket and feel asleep.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On the next day Susan was looking over some charts on the admission’s desk. She was having a hard time concetrating on the job, since Jerry had brought his new stereo to the hospital. She wouldn’t complain about it because she knew everybody else was enjoying the music.

_Jerry, turn it down _ Kerry Weaver said

Jerry turned the stereo down for a moment, but when she left the desk he turned it up again. Mark approached the computer. Susan was right beside it. He told himself to act naturally and got closer to her.

_Hey! _ he said

_Hey, Mark! How is it going? _ she asked glancing at him.

_Same as usual....

He started typing but pressed a wrong button. The screen of the computer went blank.

_Oh, damn it! I hate computers! _ he muttered

_What’s wrong? _ Susan asked looking up

_Look what happened! It’s all gone!

_What did you do?

_I don’t know, I was just typing and...

Susan stood in front of the computer and started to press some buttons. Suddenly, it all came back to normal, the informations reappeared on the screen.

_Here! Problem solved! _ she said proud of herself

_You’re good at this....

_Well, it requires knowledge...._ she joked grinning

They looked at each other for a little while, smiling. At this point, they could hear this song at the background.


" We've known each other
For a long long time
But I never really noticed
All the magic in your eyes
I've been around you
A thousand times before
And you've always been a friend to me
But now I'm wanting more
I must have been so blind
I never realized
You're the one that's right for me
All the while I couldn't see
And now I feel so strange
I'll never be the same
Going 'round and 'round in circles
And I don't know what to do
'Cause baby

I've been thinking about you
In the most peculiar way
I've been thinking about you
It's unbelievable to me
But suddenly I think
I'm falling in love with you

Susan stopped reviewing her chart and stared at nothing, just trying to let those lyrics sink in. Mark turned around to look at the stereo and noticed how everybody else seemed careless to that song, which translated all his feelings at the present moment.

There's no explaining how I feel inside
I'm going thru a transformation
That's so hard for me to hide
I had a revelation that
Finally opened up my eyes
The one I spent a lifetime searching for
Was right here all the time
I was oblivious so very out of touch
All the while I couldn't see
You're the one that's right for me
And now my world has changed
I'll never be the same
Going 'round and 'round in circles
And it's all because of you
Sweet baby

Don't you know
That you're blowing my mind
What you do to me
I can't describe
Baby I can't hold back anymore
I just can't conceal it
You're the one I really adore"

Mark and Susan glanced at each other at the same time. They eyes met quickly. She looked away and turned around, trying to hide her embarassement.

_Well, I’m gonna go do .. a thing. _she said walking away.

Mark turned to face her, but she was gone. He sighed and took a deep breath. "What just happened?!" he asked himself, trying to repeat that second their eyes met on his mind. "Why did she look at me like that? I mean, I looked at her, but I have my reasons. I’m in lo..." he stopped himself. "No! I’m just having some weird thoughts, it doesn’t mean that my feelings have changed" he tried to convince himself. This thought slipped away when he heard someone calling after him.

_Mark! _ Doug said

_Yeah _ he turned around

_Can you help me with a L.P. later?

_Oh, sure.

_Whenever you’re free. It’s on exam 2.

_I’ll be right there.

Mark finished his work in the computer and headed to exam room 2 to help Doug with the L.P.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Some hours later ......

Mark entered the lounge and found Kerry and Susan there talking. Surprisingly, there was no fighting.

_She really did this? _ Susan asked

_Yeah, she resigned last night. Anspaugh told me to check if there was anyone interesting in the job around here. You were the first person that came to my mind. _ Kerry said

_Well, this is a great opportunity....

_Think about it and get back to me as soon as you can _ Kerry said walking away.

_Ok. I will.

Kerry left the room and Susan stood motionless thinking. Mark watched her for a little while, before asking:

_What is the good news?

Susan turned around to face him.

_Uh, Linda Martin has just resigned the chief resident position in the ER. So, there’s an open space and ....

_You’re thinking about taking it? _ he asked cheerfully

_Yeah, I mean, now I have more time to dedicate to my career. What do you think?

_I think it’s great. I’ve always wanted you to be cheaf resident since the beggining. You have what it takes: you’re talented, smart, competent, you know how to handle pressure and chaos. You should definitely take it. _ Mark said without noticing he was almost drulling over her.

_Thanks Mark! I knew you would encourage me to do it.

_Well, I’m here to help! _ he grinned

_Thanks one more time. I just need to think about it a little bit.

_Oh, sure. I understand.

They glared into each other’s eyes for a short while, that seemed to last forever. Mark took one step closer. They stood looking at each other for a few more seconds, but suddenly the door flew open and Carter went in. Mark and Susan seemed to have woken up from a deep hypnoses. They were both very embarassed about what have just happened and didn’t knew what to do or what to think anymore.

_Dr. Greene, Dr. Ross was looking for you. _ Carter said

_Oh, ok.

Mark looked down and walked towards the door. Susan watched him as he stopped and turned to her.

_Let me know about your decision _ he said trying to make that awkwardness disappear.

_Ok. _ she said quietly.

Mark left the room and a few seconds later Carter did the same. Susan let a big breath out and leaned against the wall. She rubbed her forehead and shook her head. "What was that?" she asked herself. "Were we flirting?! No, no way! We were just....I was just...gazing him. But, why would I gaze Mark? No, I was just looking at him, in a friendly way. Yes, that was it! It was a friendly exchange of looks!" she tried to assure herself of something she knew it wasn’t the truth.

Mark walked through the hall with no direction. "What just happened?" he asked himself. "Did that mean anything? Was I too obvious? No, we were just talking and ...and we looked at each other. No big deal. It was nothing. It was just a friendly look!" he kept fooling himself.

2 hours later.....

Mark was picking his stuff to go home in the lounge. He was having a hard time dealing with his feelings toward Susan. He always assumed their friendship was something safe, something strong and that would never change. Their relationship was pure and platonic. That was the right word: platonic. They were always close and honest with each other. He respected her and she did the same. He knew he could always trust her, and this was something he treasured. She was the one he turned to when he was feeling down, or when he needed advices or just talk about anything. She was his confident. He used to tell her his marital problems with Jen, she was the first one to know they were getting dirvoced and she always tried to make him not feel guilty about it. He felt very connected to her in every single way. They had a wonderful professional relationship, they were like a invicible couple of the emergency. Once they were on in the Trauma room, nothing could stop them to do the best for their patients health. That was probably why Doug called them "the Jeff and Mutt of emergency medicine". Mark have always known all this, but now it hit him in a different way. He hadn’t noticed that she had become quite necessary in his simple existence. And now that was the only thing that mattered. He needed her and lose her friendship was out of speculation. He was willing to cast his feeling aside, just to continue enjoying their usual friendship. Unless, he knew she wanted more. But in his mind that was almost improbable and impossible.

Mark smiled to himself. He had just thought of something that may help him to sort his feelings for her. Actually, it was just a way to spend some time with her, to see if their interests were mutual. He put on his coat and left the hospital in a hurry. He had no time to lose.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Susan was organizing some papers on the table in her apartment, when she heard someone knocking at the door. She walked towards the door, curious. She wasn’t expecting visits and had no idea who it might be.

_Who is it? _ she asked

_It’s me, Mark. _ he said a litle nervous.

Susan opened the door surprised to see him, but not disappointed. He had two bags in his arms.

_Hey! _ she said

_Hey! It this a bad time? _ he asked

_Uh, no. Not at all. What is all this? _ she smiled

_Well, I was thinking and I realized we never had a chance to celebrate your birthday. You were traveling and I ended up letting it pass when you came back. So, I figured it would be nice if we could do it now. I brought chinese food, beers and a cake. _ he said

_You didn’t have to do all this, Mark.....

_I wanted to.

_Thanks. It was very sweet of you. Come in. _ she said

He went in and she closed the door. For a moment they stood silent.

_Well, let me put this in the fridge _ she said taking the beers _ Make yourself confortable.

_Ok.

While Susan was in the kitchen, Mark walked around and noticed some paints on the bookshelf. He took the papers and looked at them for a while. They were probably little Susie’s paints.

_I didn’t knew you appreciated modern art _ he said joking when she came back to the living room.

Susan gave a quick laugh and took some of the papers.

_These are Susie’s draws. Chloe sent it to me in a letter. She said Susie did this specially for me. Look, that’s me! _ she pointed to one of the paints.

_Oh, it sure looks like you _ Mark grinned as he saw the picture.

_Well, my head is a little big, not not mention the lack of a nose in my face, but I think it’s kinda cute. _ she joked.

Mark laughed.

_So, let’s eat? _ he asked

_Sure.

They sat on the couch and turned on the tv. They opened the boxes of Chinese food and started eating while they talked. They talked about lot of things, mostly about County and the people in there. They were both having a great time. That situation made them remind this day:

"I drop Susie off with my parents, made up with you to go tequila shopping and all of the sudden we’re having a torrid affair" Susan said

"Who said it was torrid?" Mark asked curious

"No one, I’m just assuming it would be" she said innocently

Mark looked at her somewhat surprised.

"That’s not what I meant" she said a little embarassed

"It’s ok. I know what you meant. And I’m sure it would be. Why wouldn’t it be!?"

"No reason" she replied with a grin

They shared a long and meaningful look, that was interrupted by Susan.

"I have to put more lime in this" she said getting up and leaving Mark frustrated on the couch.

They were watching tv when Mark decided to ask her about the chief resident position.

_So, have you decided about the chief residency? _ Mark asked

_Uh.....I don’t know yet. I mean, it’s a great offer but, it’s a great commitment. And I don’t if I will stick around until next year _ she said cautiously.

Mark opened his eyes in shock and almost choked.

_What-what do you mean with that? _ he asked

_It’s nothing.

_Susan, are you thinking of leaving the hospital?

_Uh, I don’t know, Mark. It’s just that lately I have been having some thoughts and...

_And?

_I’m considering moving to Phoenix _ she said in a serious tone

Mark stopped. He could feel his mouth dry and his heart ache. Susan noticed his statement and started explaining.

_It seems like there’s nothing left for me in Chicago anymore.

Mark’s face went blank, his eyes showed how lost he was feeling inside.

_It’s not decided yet. I’m just taking some time to figure what I really want, you know....I don’t want to do something rush and end up regretting after.

_So, uh, I see.....What makes you think there’s nothing left for you here? _ he asked

Susan pondered for a bit.

_I won’t lie to you, Mark. After Chloe took Susie away, I’ve been feeling like my life has no direction. I feel empty and lonely, like if someone have taken a part of me.

_That’s because you miss her.

_Yeah. I really do! When I was there, I felt complete and happy.

_You have so much to do here, Susan, your life is here, your job, your friends..... _ he said almost pleeding

_I know. That’s why I’m so confused. What do you think I should do? _ she asked looking straight into his eyes.

_...I don’t want to interfere in your decision.....

_I’m just asking for your opinion.

_Ok. I-I don’t know what I would do if you left, Susan. I don’t know if I would be able to .... get through a day without you. I mean, you’re my best friend and ....

Susan could see the tears forming in his eyes. Mark stopped to put order in his thoughts. He couldn’t hide how he was feeling, he would do anything for her to stay.

_There are lots of things for you in Chicago. You just have to look closer! _ he said looking longingly at her.

Susan knew intantaneously what he had implied with that statement. She looked away and after a few seconds, she faced Mark again.

_You’re right. _ she said getting up _it was just a stupid idea!

Susan started to pace around the living room.

_So silly! _ she completed.

Mark got up and walked towards her.

_No, it wasn’t stupid or silly. You’re just trying to make yourself happy. This could never be stupid. I know you miss little Susie, she’s like your own daughter. But I think it’s time to think of moving on with your own life. _ he said placing his hand on her shoulder and patting it gently.

Susan nodded. She turned around to face him.

_I-I know that. You’re right, Mark. I think I was trying to have her again. What I have to face is that Chloe is her mother, and even if I wanted to.....things’ve changed. And they will never be the same again.

_Look, you have to think about it first to figure out what is the best for you. I’ve said too much, and it has to be your choice. .....I’m gonna go home. _ he said a little reluctant.

Susan nodded.

_Ok.

Mark put his coat on and walked towards the door.

_I’m sorry if said too much....._ he started to say.

_No. Thanks. For everything, thank you! _ she said

_Anytime.

They smiled at each other for a bit.

_See you tomorrow? _ she asked

_Yep. Goodnight!

_Night!

Susan closed the door slowly. She took a deep breath and let her body slide down through the door until she was sitting on the floor. She rested her head on the door and closed her eyes. Her mind was full of images, words and sounds. "You just have to look closer!". The sound of his voice seemed to still be in the room. She remembered the expresssion on his face when she mentioned Phoenix. "I don’t know if I would be able to get through a day without you" Susan sighed and said quietly to herself: "I don’t know if I could live without you either".She rested her head on her knees. He was so right. She was just trying to get her old life back. But it was clearly impossible. Chloe was back and now she was the real mother of baby Susie. It was a fact, and even if Susan moved to Phoenix she would never have Susie they way it used to be. In Phoenix, she would have to start her life all over again. She would have to work in a different hospital, with different people and different customs. She would be living far away from her friends, far away from people she really cared about. Was she willing to abdicate everything over something so uncertain?! Only now she realized how much she was risking. How much she might lose if she decided to leave Chicago. One more time, she remembered Mark and the way he tried to change her mind.

Susan got up and went to look over the window. She could see that Mark’s car was still parked in front of the building. A few moments after the car started moving. She watched until it disappeared along the street, then she turned off the lights and headed for her bedroom. It was a long long night, full of considerations and remarks. She knew she had to decide something that might change her life forever.

Mark drove to his apartment slowly, trying to put some order in his mind. He wondered if he had done the right thing telling her all that. He knew he wasn’t supposed to intrude in her life or her decisions, but he couldn’t let it pass. He couldn’t let her talk like if there was nothing good enough for her in Chicago. He couldn’t even think of losing her. In that moment he let his heart say those words. For the first time in a long time, he actually did something spontaneous. He just wanted to hug her tight and tell her how much he loved her and how much he wanted to be with her. Mark never thought he would face the possiblity of Susan leaving the city, leaving his life. He wasn’t sure of what would happen, of what she would decide. But he knew he would do anything to keep her close. While these thought run in his puzzled mind, he could hear this song playing on the radio:

"If only I had the guts to feel this way

If only you’d look at me and want to stay

If only I’d take you in my arms and say

I won’t go ‘cause I need you

Please don’t go ‘cause I need you now "

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2 days later........

Mark was in the lounge drinking coffee. He was just starting his shift, but he was already feeling tired. He had to confess that the last couple of days were a little bumpy. He hadn’t heard anything from Susan about Phoenix. In fact, he hadn’t seen her since that night in her apartment. Now, he was speacially nervous ‘cause he knew she would be in the hospital soon. He had been nervous and ansious these days, he didn’t know what to expect.

These thoughts slipped away as the door flew open and Susan entered the lounge.

_Hey, I was looking for you. _ she said getting closer to him and pouring herself some coffee.

_I didn’t know you were here. _ he replied trying not to put so much emotion in his voice.

_I was upstairs.....talking to Anspaugh. _ she said faking a serious voice.

Mark looked at her, his eyes filled with concern.

_So, I guess you’ve made a decision....

_Yeah. I did. It wasn’t easy, but I think it’s the best for me, and for my life now. _ she said still sounding serious.

_Phoenix?! _ he asked looking always presuming her answer would be "yes".

Susan paused for a second.

_Phoenix..yeah....only on my next vacation. _ she said increasing her voice_ Because I’m the chief resident of the ER! _ she completed with a cheer.

Mark turned to face her, with his eyes and mouth wide open. His face suddenly had a incredible glow, and his eyes were sparkling.

_Really?! _he asked

_Yeah, I’ve just assumed the position!

_So, I’m not gonna lose my best friend?

_No. This will never happen _ she said in a confessional tone.

Mark couldn’t handle all the happiness he was feeling inside. He slided his arms around her gently and hugged her tight. She envolved him in her arms too. And for a moment time seemed to have stopped. They felt so comfortable in each other’s arms, as if they belonged there. In that moment, they regretted for not doing this kind of thing often. Sometimes they felt their platonic friendship was somewhat distant. They pulled back.

_I’m so glad to hear that! _ he said

_Well, I gave it a lot of thought and realized that I could never leave Chicago or anything that’s here. _ she paused_ And that includes you!

Mark looked straight into her eyes. His heart was beating so fast that he thought it was going to explode. He didn’t know what to do next. Should he finally tell her about his feeling or just be satisfied with their friendship?

_Susan, I.....I, I was so afraid of losing you. I mean, these couple of days had been a living hell to me.

_I know.

They glared each other one more time. They were enchanted by each other’s presence. It felt like the world outside had changed, it seems like they have changed. Mark took her hand gently and smiled at her. She interlocked her fingers with his. She looked at him and smiled back.

Suddenly they heard the sirene of the ambulance approaching the hospital. Mark grabbed her arm quickly and dragged Susan out of the lounge, before Kerry could warn them about the trauma coming in. She was opening the door of the lounge when Mark and Susan bursted through it towards the hall.

_Hey, there’s a trauma coming in. Where are you going? _ Kerry yelled.

_Can you take this one, Kerry?!We have something to do! _ Mark said running towards the stairs with Susan.

_Get back here! _ Kerry said.

Mark and Susan turned around the corner and entered the exam room, that luckly was empty. Mark closed the door behind them and stopped for a minute breathless. Susan looked at him, still wondering why he had done this. They stared at each other for half-a-second.

_What was that? _ he asked.

_What was that?! I’m the one that should be asking this question, Mark. Why did you dragg me all this way here? _ she said.

_No, I’m talking about what happened in the lounge....What-what was that?

Susan stood montioless, she didn’t know how to answer him.

_What is going on between us, Susan? I mean, lately I’ve been feeling like something has changed and everytime I’m around you I...

_Feel different _ Susan said looking down.

_Yes, and I can’t deny it anymore. I just want to be honest with you. Is it just me or.....? _ he asked looking deeply into her eyes.

_It’s not just you! _ she said looking up and facing him.

For a moment they both stood silent.

_I love you, Susan. I don’t know how did it happened, I just know that you’re not only a friend to me anymore. You-you’re more than that. You are the one I want to spent the rest of my life with, you’re the one I need.

_Mark, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to hear that _ she said after a moment _ I thought I was the only one, and I was afraid of screwing our friendship. I didn’t want to face I was falling in love with my best friend...

_Was? _ he asked quietly

Susan gazed him.

_I’m .

Mark smiled and caressed her face.

_So, does that mean that we can....? _ Mark started to ask.

_I don’t know _ she replied pulling away.

Susan walked around the room. Then she turned around and after some time, she said:

_It’s just that lately, I’m losing everything I care about, everything I love.

Mark walked towards her.

_I know people come and go in our lives, but they only seem to be going out of mine now. _ she said in a sad tone. _ And I don’t want this to happen to us.

_This will never happen to us, Susan. Can’t you see that we’re meant to be?! That whenever things go wrong, somehow we are always together, supporting each other. I know that it might change everything, but who said it’s not going to be for the best?

Their faces were now very close, almost touching.

_Yeah, you’re right. I just don’t want to lose you, ever. _ Susan said

_You won’t....

They smiled at each other and started to get closer and closer. Nothing else made sense anymore, and honestly they didn’t care about that. They just wanted to be there, in that amazing moment. Just finally allowing themselves to feel that unconsumed love and desire. The emotion was taking over their bodies and souls, running through the veins. Mark stroked her cheek and pulled her even closer. Their lips met in a deep, passionate and long kiss. He envolved her with his arms and she casted all her fears aside. She knew nothing in the world could be more right than that. She knew they belonged together, their lifes were intercrossed in every possible way. They loved each other since the moment they met, but for several reasons they could only develop a intense friendship. And now finally, they had the chance to be together in the way they have always wanted, and they wouldn’t waste any more time pondering whether it would be right or wrong. They were willing to let the love they felt guide them to happiness.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

THE END






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