Disclaimer: The characters used in this story belongs to creator Shonda Rhimes, ShondaLand, The Mark Gordon Company and ABC Studios. No copyright infringements intended.


Sometimes Pete wishes he didn't care so much. Not that he wants to be a robot, but despite the many proud moments that have come from his ability to care for virtual strangers, there has also been much heartache. Meg often asks him why he never told even his closest friends what he used to do before settling down in Los Angeles. He knows, from the questions and comments made to him after her arrival, especially by Addison and Violet, that Meg has been feeding them with heroic tales from his past. It's not that he minds, as he knows she's only doing it because she's proud of him and wants him to be, too. She probably thinks he's being modest, but truth of the matter is that he just doesn't want to think about those years.

He smiles and shrugs it off whenever confronted by his hidden past, excuses it with it having nothing to do with his current life. That is only half-true, as your past always has a way of affecting your life, even if just slightly. Having just completed residency, his younger self had set out to save the world. Doctors Without Borders had seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. An idealist at heart, he had believed, like many others before him, that he would make a difference. And while he did play his part, his triumphs paled in comparison to the amounts of tragedy and suffering he witnessed deep in the world of war and disaster, and eventually he simply couldn't take it anymore. Meg doesn't understand because she managed to find joy in the little things, while he kept weighing it against the suffering that he wasn't able to mend.

One of the reasons Pete chose to base his own practice on infectious diseases, in addition to the vast amount of experience he had accumulated in his time with DWB, was that it allowed him to distance himself from the actual patients. Infections diseases, while horrible and prone to causing death and suffering, are more about statistics than individual patients. Pete was able to build walls around his heart and he sometimes wonders if that was one of the things that poisoned his marriage.

It was Anna's death that eventually woke him up. He realized just how closed up and distant he had become, and he didn't care for it. Being given a second chance, he decided to change specialties. He's had to take a lot of flack for his choice, especially from those who only know that side of him. For a long time Addison called him a quack, and Charlotte once accused him of turning his back on the good side of medicine. It doesn't bother him, though, as he's long past needing the approval of others. Holistic medicine gave him the two things he needed the most, the chance to connect with the individual patient, combined with a low mortality rate.

Death still happens, of course, but mostly it's due to the patient having already come to terms with a biological death sentence, and his treatment of them is about relieving their suffering rather than searching for a cure. Those are deaths that, while tragic, they are simply part of life, and that is something he can accept without feeling crushed. That wasn't the case with Ray, and that is why Pete has been sitting in his office for the past three hours, pouring over patient notes and test results. He knows there is no point to it, as the man's already dead, but he can't help himself. His guilty conscience needs to know that he did everything he could for the man, but the fact of the matter is that the answer he truly seeks cannot be found within these notes. He wants to believe Ray would have raced anyway, and by helping him prepare he did everything in his power to do it safely, but Pete can never know for sure if the man would have raced if he and Sam hadn't gotten involved and
given him hope...

His bladder finally forces him to take a break from his manic behavior and on his way back from the men's room, he notices upon passing Violet's office, that she too, has yet to go home. Considering their conversation earlier in the day regarding dating and potential erectile dysfunctions, Pete simply assumed she had given her date a second try, otherwise he would have gone by her office sooner. Like him, Violet's virtually married to her work, and for that reason they have often found themselves the only people left at the office. He's known since his brief time as her patient that Violet's a good listener, but it's really in the many years since he joined the practice that he's come to realize just how much. Violet calls him out on his crap, but she doesn't judge. She listens, offers advice where she can and understanding where she can't. In return she trusts him with thoughts and feelings he isn't sure she's even told Cooper. Some of it, at least, he believes has been for his ears
only, because Violet doesn't really have female friends that she's that close with, and she's not very likely to share her insecurities about Cooper with Cooper.

He opens the door, and plops down next to her on the couch, like he's done so many times before. It's almost like Violet's been expecting him. She turns to him, a look of sympathy on her face. "I heard about what happened at the race... so sorry..." He appreciates that she doesn't try to convince him it isn't his fault. She knows he won't hear it, so she simply offers him sympathy and support.

"Yeah, me too," he sighs. Considering he just spent three hours obsessing about his dead patient, he doesn't really feel like discussing it further. Looking for a distraction, he instead turns to her and teasingly asks, "How come you're not on your date? Using the potion?"

Her sad expression makes him regret it, though, as she glances at the little red bottle in front of her. "He didn't want to go out again..."

Pete wasn't too keen on Violet going out with this Sheldon guy in the first place, but to hear he turned her down seems even worse. He knows Violet has had to take a lot of crap when it comes to relationships in the past, and for that reason he feels very protective of her. "Ah," he sighs, shaking his head. "That's his loss..."

"No, it's my loss," she objects. She turns to him. "You know, celibacy is a sign of strength... but I'm so lonely, Pete."

Relating to that feeling, he places his right arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. "So am I," he admits.

"Like... the bottom-of-my-soul lonely..."

Although it's her own emotions that she's describing, Pete feels the description hitting home. He thinks about the way he's constantly closed off parts of himself and how that has left him feeling disconnected and alone. He kept his friends in the dark about his time with DWB, too many things were wrong in his marriage, and he knowingly sabotaged his many half-hearted attempts at relationships after that. Even with Meg he feels himself holding back. There's a barrier between him and the people around him, and for that reason he's lonely. "So am I," he sighs.

Pete pulls her close and places a comforting kiss on her temple. He's not surprised to feel her lean against him, but he's surprised at exactly how peaceful he feels with her in his arms. He catches the scent of her shampoo (strawberries) and is compelled to repeat his actions. This time his lips linger against her skin as he tries to wrap his mind around what on earth it is that's going on with him.

It takes Violet a moment to react to the second kiss, but eventually she turns and looks at him, and Pete feels oddly drawn to this woman, who for the past eight years first and foremost has been his friend and coworker. Sure, he found her attractive from the very beginning and in his early years around the office he would flirt with her, even tried picking her up a few times. She was always smart enough to turn him down, though, pointing out to him that she wasn't looking to become a notch on anyone's bedpost, or in his case, his accupuncture table.

Pete can't explain why this time it's different. All he knows is that Violet is looking at him, not analyzing him or calling him on his actions, just looking, almost in an anticipating way. He takes a chance and leans in to kiss her properly, and feels her meeting him halfway. The kiss is hesitant, like treading unknown water, testing new boundaries, and it only lasts a couple of seconds. Pulling back they stare at each other, in surprise, in desire. And the strange emotions he's been having regarding this thing with Violet and Sheldon suddenly make sense. Sam was right, he was jealous.

Like he's afraid she's going to snap out of it and tell him how crazy this thing is, he quickly closes the gap between them and kisses her again. He needn't have worried, because she's kissing him back just as eagerly. Just seconds after he cups her face he feels her doing the same. Lips meet lips, tongue meets tongue, and breathing seems almost optional. He runs his hands through her hair, and he instinctively manoeuvres her body into a horizontal position. He feels her hand reach for his, pulling him closer to her.

She's an active participant, tugging on his shirt, wrapping her legs around his body. The narrowness of the couch brings an unexpected challenge in finding ways to remove clothing without falling off it in the process. It helps to push the pillows over the backrest, and turning over to the side frees up the arm he used to support his weight with.

Clothes, both his and hers, pile up around the couch at an impressive pace. Relishing the feel of her soft skin under his fingertips, his hands eagerly unveil her curves. It has long been forgotten that the blinds are still open, but with no one around it ends up not mattering. No one sees the mess of entangled limbs, or hears the moans and cries of passion.

Likewise no one witnesses the awkward aftermath, as they both lie side by side, trying to catch their breaths. Pete is the first one to turn over to his side. Unashamed about this surprising turn of events, he lets his free hand run down her now glistening body. He doesn't know what this means, if it has to mean anything at all. What he does know is that he wants whatever this was to happen again.

They allow themselves one more kiss before the spell is broken. For a moment Pete lies back, enjoying the sight of her bending and turning as she searches for her garnments in the pile of mixed clothes. It's like she knows that he's looking, because she tosses him his own clothes without even turning around. He takes the hint and begins to dress himself.

In silence they set the couch right. Pete places the pillows back in their rightful position, and she folds up the discarded blanket, draping it over the right-side armrest. Clearly content with the room's more tidy apperance, Violet moves to leave. Pete quickly grabs her hand before she can manage, and she turns around.

"Tomorrow morning," he says. "Coffee shop, down the street."

She agrees, and he lets her leave. Catching himself admiring her backside, he wonders if they have just ruined their friendship. And then he remembers Meg, who's due back from San Fransisco tomorrow, and he realizes he might have ruined more than that...



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