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Chicago Med fic - One of those days...

Character(s): Connor Rhodes, Daniel Charles
Genre(s): character study, friendship,
Episode(s): second season up till 2x08
Summary: After a long and hard day, Connor would love nothing more but to get to bed. Instead he finds himself at Molly's, drinking beer with the head of psychiatry, who is incidentally his girlfriends father. Sure. Why not.
Notes: My first foray into this fandom, written during the MiniWrimo 2016. I rather enjoyed watching the actor playing Dr. Rhodes sing in Affair and would love to see him do something similar in the show, but alas, we have to wait for it. For now, here's a little filler till the next episode airs. Hopefully no one is too out of character. Enjoy and please, let me know what you thought.

It was one of the longest days Connor experienced since he returned to Chicago, and that was saying something. He had three different surgeries with Latham standing opposite him. Of those three, only one surgery brought a satisfactory outcome, the second might've prolonged the life of the dying man by a year or two and the third... well, Connor didn't want to think about the third one. The woman lying on his table might've been about his age and she came in with several gunshot wounds to the chest. They were trying to save her and for a moment it looked like they'd maybe won, but then she threw a clot right on the table and there was absolutely nothing to do. Connor had the pleasure to say the news to her sister and brother in law at the end of his double shift. In short, by the time he walked into the lounge and started changing to his own clothes, he was tired, frustrated and feeling rather despondent, which he made rather clear when he slammed the door to his locker with such force it rattled.

"What did that poor locker do to you, Dr. Rhodes?" a voice enquired and Connor turned around, startled, just to face the head of psychiatry, or rather his girlfriend's father.

"Dr. Charles," he uttered, then shook his head. He really didn't feel up for another confrontation with the man. The fact they were butting heads even since Robin came to town was wearing thin on Connor rather quickly, though he was able to pretend otherwise. Tonight though... tonight all his reserves were spent and Connor felt too raw to try and pretend it was okay. He could feel the psychiatrist eyes on him and was waiting for some scathing remark, but there was only silence and Connor looked up from his locker.

"Do you need something from me, Dr. Charles?" he asked, as politely as he could and was surprised when the man nodded. He was really hoping to just slip out of the hospital and go home, alone. Robin was currently out of town at a conference and maybe some of the tension he felt was caused by that too. They were together only for a month now and she left two days ago, wasn't due back for another two and he really missed her. Right now he could've used her no-nonsense humor or that smile that lifted her whole face. Anything to stop thinking about dying patients, collegial disputes and the fact that he won't be able to spend thanksgiving with his sister, because both she and their father were leaving on some business trip. And yes, this was a great moment to feel sorry for himself.

"I thought... with Robin gone for a few days, that maybe we can try and... find some common ground. Bury the hatchet, so to speak," Daniel spoke, pulling the younger doctor from his thoughts. Connor blinked, and then shook his head.

"What hatchet? We just had a few professional... disagreements," Connor said, trying to find the right word.

Daniel huffed and cleared his throat.

"While I stand by my medical opinion on these cases... I admit I could've handled it a bit better. Come on, I know you had a hard day and need to let out some steam. Why don't we stop at Molly's? I'll buy you a beer and we can talk."

Connor was silent for a minute. He knew it took a lot for the man to admit to mistake and in a way this felt a bit like an apology. He also knew that his relationship with Robin also drove some wedge between the father and daughter and he didn't want that, not on his behalf, but he wasn't about to lose Robin over his desire to regain Daniel's friendship. This looked like an olive branch and he should've grabbed it, but...

"Look, I appreciate the offer, Dr. Charles. But like you said, today wasn't my best day and I doubt I would be good company. Rain check?" Connor offered and headed out of the lounge room, trying to pass the psychiatrist who stood in the door, but he didn't step aside.

"Come on, one beer. Or whatever else you drink. I don't think going home to an empty apartment sounds better than grabbing a couple of drinks at Molly's. Heck, I can even throw in a story about how Robin fell of an apple tree and scared two boys half to death when she started spitting blood at them."

Connor couldn't help it, he chuckled.

"See? You don't have a shift tomorrow, so no rush to go home," Daniel was grasping at straws. While Connor didn't really get his motivation (though he was pretty sure there was some), truth was the empty apartment sounded worse by the minute. All it would give him would be time to ponder and think about the day he had. What Daniel was offering was getting to know Robin better through her father and maybe, just maybe stop that nonsensical tension between the two of them.

"Okay," he relented. "A few beers at Molly's. Just don't complain if I won't be good company."

"I think I can handle that," Daniel replied with a grin, then clapped his hands. "Great. Let me grab my stuff and we can go. I promise this will be fun," he patted Connor's arm and headed for his office, leaving Connor standing in the lounge shaking his head and wondering just what he got himself into.

Two hours, three beers and several stories from Robin's childhood later, Connor was feeling much more relaxed and more than just a bit drunk. Arguably, it wasn't the best idea to drink on an empty stomach (and nope, the peanuts at the bar didn't count as real sustenance), especially not with a psychiatrist who was the father of your girlfriend. There was just too many things that man could read about Connor, without him needing to even utter a word. Which, to be frank, Connor was doing more than just a few words. After the first beer went down and the alcohol hit his brain, Connor let down most of his defenses and Daniel Charles knew just how to rip him of the rest. A well meant story about him realizing just how much he screwed it up with Robin did the trick. Connor started protesting that it wasn't that bad, that there were worse fathers out there, when he paused, shaking his head. Nope, he wasn't drunk enough to go there. Daniel noticed it and decided to change the topic a bit, turned it back to Connor and his time in Riyadh.

While Connor recounted the year he had taking care about rich assholes or their much poorer servants, the subtle music from the radio changed to a not so perfect singing.

"Looks like Hermann finally gave up and started that karaoke night, huh?" Kelly Severide said while passing the two doctors on his way to the bar.

"Maybe he should've invested in the singer too," Connor replied with a grimace as the rather drunk guy on the stage tried to pull off Nothing else matters from Metallica, and failing miserably.

"Why, I think this will raise the sale of drinks. God knows no one will want to listen to this sober," Daniel said and both men chuckled.

"Yeah well, not everyone can sing like Connor," Kelly said then with a grin walked away. Daniel quirked his eyebrows, curious.

"Pray tell. Are you hiding some secret talent, Dr. Rhodes?"

Connor muttered something about firefighters being tattletales and took a swallow of his beer.

"Come on, don't leave me hanging. What was it, musical at high school or playing drums to annoy your father?"

Connor wanted to say that both, instead he shrugged, the mention of his father throwing him back into his fugue.

"Why don't you go and take your chances, Dr. Rhodes? It can't be worse than this guy... or apparently, his girlfriend," Daniel added, cringing, when said girl jumped up on the stage and started singing along her man.

Connor also cringed but shook his head. He wasn't drunk enough to sing in front of his fellow colleague, or the familiar firefighters and cops that were gathered at the bar. He had some reputation to uphold, at least he thought so and there was no way he was going up and making a fool of himself.

"I haven't sung for over five years." Well, if one didn't count the party he attended with Severide a few weeks back, but then he was drinking whiskey, not beer. "Not happening," was all he said and changed the topic.

The night was slowly crawling by in a surprisingly friendly conversation that reminded Connor of the first few weeks when he came to work at the hospital and how everyone was trying to get to know him. Then it was Will that pulled him out for drinks for the most time, but now the man spent most of his free time (which admittedly wasn't that much) with his own girlfriend. Connor couldn't judge him for that. The conversation turned back to Robin and the oncoming holidays, Daniel's plans to maybe spend thanksgiving with his daughter if she was so inclined and Connor thought about his own family and wondered if he should maybe take a double shift at the hospital just to prevent himself from being in his apartment, all alone. Though he had a feeling that Robin might try to get him to spend thanksgiving with her and her family.

Up till tonight Connor doubted he could accept that, just the idea of sitting opposite her father all night, pretending they didn't both fight for her attention, made him feel uncomfortable. But now, after spending several hours with Daniel, it wasn't such an unbelievable idea, though he didn't want to impose. When five minutes later Daniel asked where will he be spending the holidays, Connor finished his beer and stood up. The bar wobbled a bit, but it was less crowded than before and there were much less familiar faces in the crowd. The hour was late and when the girl on the stage tried to pull off a Whitney Houston song, Connor had pretty much enough. There was only so much his ears could handle and really, the folks deserved to hear at least one good song.

"You want another beer?" he asked Daniel, who was eyeing him through slightly crossing eyes. The psychiatrist has kept up with Connor nicely and most probably he didn't have more than a sandwich either. That just made Connor more confident. Heck, maybe the man won't even remember this.

"Sure, why not. It might drown out that wailing over there," he motioned to the stage and Connor smirked, taking the empty glasses to the bar. After a short conversation with Hermann about the choice of the next song, Connor put two full glasses on the table, but didn't sit down.

"I rather hope you won't remember this tomorrow," he told Daniel and headed towards the stage. The older doctor blinked, then realized what was going on. With a smirk and praising himself that he didn't leave his phone to Sharon after all, he pulled it out and started playing with the camera. He might not remember this next day, but hell if he didn't get some dirt on his little girl's chosen one. Be it for laughs or to show her he tried to make amends.

The attempt almost failed when the phone fell from his fumbling hands and Connor was already standing on the stage and the first notes of the song started to play by the time Daniel managed to turn on the camera and set it to record.

At first, Daniel thought Connor would pick some silly song, that he would half ass it in his drunken state, but the opposite was the truth. The song was dark and filled with way too much emotion for someone who was supposedly just doing this to have some fun. Listening to the song and the haunting lyrics, Daniel slowly put the camera down. This felt just too personal, too deep. He will have to get his fun later, maybe when Connor was in a better mood and their colleagues could appreciate his talent as well. Right now the psychiatrist took a big gulp of his cold beer and leaned back, listening.

Connor had long forgotten how it felt to sing, to immerse himself in music. Suddenly he wished to be somewhere else, go back into the time when stuff was much simpler. Not better, definitely not good, but easier. He spent his last summer before leaving the country at a cabin by the lake, with a group of friends. Most of the time they were just letting off steam, enjoying the summer and the lake, the girls and the booze. What he remembered most was sitting by the fire with a guitar in hand and getting lost in music. Not thinking about his family or his future, just... singing. At that moment he didn't have someone's life in his hands, wasn't even really responsible for himself. Those were the nights that helped him pass the following years filled with study and work.

The song was coming to its end and Connor pulled off the refrain, letting some of the tension roll out with it. Maybe he could buy himself a guitar... or maybe ask Claire if she still had his old one stashed away at the house. Connor sang the last verse and was a bit surprised when he heard clapping. He gave a small nod of appreciation and jumped off the slightly raised stage, trying not to feel smug about the few claps on his shoulder while he was walking back to his chair.

Daniel welcomed him with an appraising look that made Connor pause slightly before sitting down and taking a long sip of his beer.

"That was impressive," the psychiatrist spoke after a moment and Connor gave a slight nod.

"Thanks. Couldn't listen to that screeching anymore," he smirked and looked towards the bar. Hermann was busy arguing with the guy who started singing first and in the next minute the karaoke machine was turned off and the pub was filled with a soft singing from the radio.

"Well, looks like you weren't the only one," Daniel said, then the smirk on his face turned to a thoughtful look. "I must admit, I think it was an interesting choice for a song. Hotel California... from Eagles?"

"What can I say. I grew up with it," Connor shrugged it off.

"So no feelings of being stuck and unable to move on?" Daniel tried and Connor frowned.

"I came for a drink, not for psychoanalysis, Dr. Charles," he reminded coldly and Daniel raised his hands in a conciliatory gesture.

"My apologies, Connor. I didn't mean to analyze you. Guess that's just the curse of psychiatrist... never able to let go."

Connor looked into Daniel's eyes thoughtfully then nodded slightly.

"Really not the best day to pick for hanging out with the head of psychiatry," he snorted, then shook his head.

"On the contrary, I think it's the best one," Daniel argued with a grin, then shrugged. "Look, you aren't obliged to tell me anything. If you want to sit here in silence the rest of the night, that's your choice. If you want to unload, I'm here."

Connor looked into his almost empty glass, debating whether to get another one or just call it a night, but he declined both choices.

"Tell me one thing, Daniel. Why were you so opposed to me and Robin dating?" he asked, already suspecting what the answer will be. "Do you personally dislike me? Do you think I would hurt your daughter? Or it's because you think I have a screwed up family history. As you put it once, father's like mine kept you in business, right?"

The question didn't surprise Daniel that much; after all he was waiting for it this whole night. The clarifying ones though, those were harder to swallow. But he was here; he was the one who initiated this whole 'let's be pals again' business and maybe he really owed Connor some answers.

"First off, what I think about you personally has nothing to do with... well, with my dislike of the situation." Daniel took a sip of his beer and cleared his throat, trying to formulate an answer Connor was clearly waiting for. "I think you're an okay guy, Connor. I would like to think of you as a friend. So no, I don't dislike you. I might've reacted that way because you and Robin started dating at a time when I just got her back. She was finally close and I had a chance to connect with her, to make up some of that lost time, but instead of a dinner with me she went out with you. So in a way I think I was just jealous."

"I didn't mean to come between you," Connor jumped in, but Daniel raised his hand and shook his head.

"That wasn't really your problem. I think that I would've felt left out had Robin found someone else to spend the time with. And let's be frank, just like she was a month ago, she isn't a little girl anymore and doesn't need me organizing her social life," Daniel said with grimace and this time it was Connor who looked a bit surprised. He didn't have a clue what Robin told her father to get him off his back, but it was clearly working. Well, most of the time.

"You still aren't happy about the two of us dating," he stated and Daniel shrugged.

"What can I say? She's my daughter and I'm trying to protect her. Won't change."

"You really think she needs protecting from me?" Connor felt a little bit insulted. He would never dream of hurting a woman, in any way. Hell, Robin was so fierce that if they ever broke up, he was sure it will be her dumping him.

"Like I said, I can't help it. And knowing what I know about your family, combined with Robin's childhood, it just makes me worried."

Connor snorted.

"Right. Did it even occur to you that maybe both of us having a screwed up childhood makes this whole thing work? I mean, she can understand my daddy issues way better than anyone else." Connor saw Daniel flinch at the down handed accusation and shook his head, frustrated.

"That's not what I meant, Daniel. I don't compare you to my father. I don't really know what was going on when Robin grew up, just as you don't have a clue what was my childhood like, except that you met my father a few times. What I was trying to say..." Connor sighed, running a hand nervously through his hair. This wasn't how he wanted the night to go. He wanted to unwind, not end up pouring out his heart to his colleague. "We both have baggage and we help each other deal with it. I'm trying really hard not to put any of that shit on Robin, to work through it and put it all behind. I came back to Chicago for that same reason, to deal with things. But I would never want to hurt her. I can promise you that."

Daniel let all those words sink in and he had to admit that under different circumstances he would be happy that his daughter found a man like Connor.

"You better not hurt her," he said with a warning and Connor raised his eyebrows.

"I won't."

"Good. And you know, if you ever want to talk about... stuff, you can come to me. Or I can refer you to one of my friends," Daniel added with a slight smirk and Connor rolled his eyes.

"Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll try to do it on my own. For now," he added and raised his glass slightly.

"Peace?"

Daniel clicked his glass with Connor's and nodded.

"To Robin," he added. Just as Connor finished his drink, his cell phone started ringing and Daniel knew instantly who was on the other end. All he needed was to see the wide smile that appeared on Connor's face as he picked up the call and started talking to his daughter. For the moment the clouds lifted from his eyes and Daniel had to admit, the man looked genuinely and deeply in love. He would definitely need to give those two lovebirds a chance. If nothing else, being friends let him stay closer to both his daughter and her boyfriend and if there was any trouble, he could try and salvage the damage. He just had a feeling that if they ever broke up, it would be Connor's heart they would be picking up off the floor. But that was neither here nor there. What he had to do now was to somehow get Connor to sing again, preferably a more jolly song and in front of his colleagues. They could throw a little karaoke competition, what with Will also singing and Natalie being a musician herself. That should be quite an interesting night.

The End

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