The Alchemist
by Ishafel

Very few people get paid to do something they love. You aren't one of them, not any more. But there was a time after Stacey left you when medicine was all you had. You did love the job then. You loved being right-you still do love that, when it turns out to be something so obscure or so ordinary no one else would have thought of it.

You used to love the hours, too: that this wasn't the kind of job you could walk away from at five on a Friday because you have people to meet for drinks. You used to love the excuse not to have a personal life-and how often did you tell Stacey, even, that you were consulting on an important case, when really you were sitting in the office in the dark watching baseball, when everyone else had gone home? The job was an excuse not to have a life, and you won't pretend you didn't love that. But there were other things that you loved: there must have been.

Now that you've fallen out of love with medicine you wish you could remember what they were. To be fair, it's not so much the job that's destroying your peace, as the people. Cuddy's faith, and James' loneliness, Cameron's poisonous sweetness and Chase's desperation and Foreman's arrogance, and the fact of Stacey's presence, and none of them ever, ever, will leave you alone. The team is your legacy; Cuddy and James said to you, it's a lucky man who gets to choose his own children. And it's not that you don't like teaching.

But you got out of the habit of thinking about people's feelings a long time ago. It's unfair of them to expect it of you. They want things from you you don't have to give. And you can't be a good doctor if you are trying too hard to be a good human being. But all of these things are only excuses, and worse than that: they're lies.

You used to love being a doctor because you were the best at what you did. But Chase will be better than you if he can ever get over the wound his father dealt him, and Foreman could be better if he learned to think, and Cameron is better already but doesn't realize it. They aren't your children; you take no pride in their accomplishments.

You like Cuddy, and you want to sleep with her, but her hope for you is tiring. How can anyone believe with such fervency? How can anyone care that much? She should have cut her losses years ago; she's hardly in a position to support someone like you. But you're tenured, and can't be fired, and also for some reason she likes you.

If you've fallen out of love with medicine at least you can point to a time when you did love it. Lately you've been wondering if you ever did love Stacey. Something made you stay with her for all those years. But you recognize yourself in her all too often, and you don't love yourself.

Wilson is the most puzzling of the group. And you do like puzzles. Sometimes you watch him doing paperwork, or talking on the phone to one of his wives, and you wonder what exactly makes him tick. He seems to want nothing from you except your company. No one could want that. And yet everywhere you go Wilson is behind you, faithful as a shadow. He consults on your cases-sometimes before you've asked him to. He makes friends with your staff, and defends you to the Board. Wilson loves his job, or you think he does. You have a hard time deciding. He can't love it too much, not if he's looking to you for camaraderie.

Very few people get paid to do something they love, something they're good at, and something that guarantees them a wage they can live on. You aren't one of them, not any more. But you can't imagine being anywhere else.


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