Title: Rumor Has It
Author: Ceridwyn2
Feedback address: jlynnsca@gmail.com
Fandom: Hospital Central
Pairing: Maca/Claudia
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1961
Summary: an innocent remark goes astray
Spoilers/Warnings: no warnings; takes place during ep 1805
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD12

Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to Telecinco. Just borrowing them temporarily.
Author's Notes: when I first saw this ep (1805) with the off-hand comment Maca made, and the expression on her face at the time, was ripe for writing a story from. :)
Beta: Hysteria74

*****

It all started as a seemingly innocent comment a patient's family member had made in the cafeteria about Dr. Claudia Castilla's snoring as she had fallen asleep sitting up outside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Claudia's protestations aside, Maca had said she knew all about Claudia's snoring given the times the other doctor had slept in her bed. Of course, it could have been the not so innocent look on Maca's face as she said it that one of the nurses had noted as she passed by the three seated.

When Maca headed back to her mother's hospital room, she had missed the hushed whispers that went up the next corridor. Not thinking anything of it, she focused on her mother's declining health. The elder Wilson needed a lung transplant to survive and things weren't looking very positive at the moment. Needless to say, she also had a hard time keeping her father's attention off the phone and focused on her mother.

In the hallway, Alicia was talking with Hector when she overheard two nurses talking in the supply room. She was inclined to ignore the conversation until she heard Maca's and Claudia's names being mentioned and not in any way related to work.

"She said what?" one of the girls asked, completely surprised.

"She told me Maca said to Claudia, "Honey, you've been sleeping a lot of times in my bed," the other nurse mentioned. "Does Esther know? I thought she and Maca had gotten back together again," the first nurse replied.

"They have as far as I know."

"Aren't the three of them – Claudia, Maca and Esther – aren't they all good friends?"

"Yes. Which makes it interesting." The younger nurse said with shrug of her shoulders.

Deciding this was the time to intervene, Hector came around the door. "Haven't you two got something better to do?"

"Sorry, Hector," both of them said beseechingly, being caught out gossiping about their colleagues. They grabbed the supplies they needed and disappeared back up the hallway.

"Do you think it's true?" Alicia asked Hector curiously. "That Maca and Claudia slept together?"

"I think it's none of our business, unless they decide to tell us," Hector said pragmatically.

"What about Esther? If it is true and she doesn't know, she'll be devastated."

"Alicia! Come on," Hector stopped her rapid speech, knowing her tendency to go on about gossip when she was interested. Tugging on her arm, he nudged her down the hall to the bank of elevators.

"But what if she was being cheated on again? Surely she has a right to know?" Alicia asked, determined. She didn't want to see her friends hurt especially after all they've been through to get back together again.

"Who's being cheated on?" Vilches asked, joining them at the elevators. When neither of them responded, he prodded, "Well?"

"We caught two of the other nurses talking about overhearing that Maca knew all about Claudia's snoring from the times she spent in her bed."

Vilches's eyebrow quirked as he very obviously put that image in his memory. "And?"

"What if it's true?" Alicia continued to ask, worried. "Shouldn't Esther know?"

"If it's true, they'll tell us," Vilches responded matter of factly, nodding.

"See," Hector started. "I told you." When the elevator pinged for their floor, they all got off and headed back down to the Emergency department and went their separate ways.

Heading into the rotunda, Alicia plopped down on one of the chairs with an "ooof."

"Alicia?" Teresa inquired at the young nurse's actions. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing good," Alicia said. Turning to face the receptionist, she asked, "Claudia and Maca have been good friends for years, haven't they?"

"Yes, yes, of course. Why?" Teresa asked, wondering where the young woman was headed with her inquiry.

"Do you think they were ever more than friends?" Alicia picked up a paperclip, playing with it to the point of it becoming all distorted.

"No, why do you ask?" Teresa was curious now and her eyes grew large as she listened to Alicia explain what she and Hector had overheard. Sitting herself down in a chair, she exhaled, "Díos Mio."

"Do you think someone should ask them? Or at least tell them that this rumour is going around?"

"What rumour?" Claudia asked as she entered the administration area. The hospital was always a hotbed of gossip. Sometimes it was true, sometimes amusing, sometimes false, and occasionally malicious. She watched as Alicia and Teresa clammed up, looking down at the floor, avoiding her gaze. "Teresa?"

"Ummmm," Teresa started, hesitating.

"What, Teresa? Alicia? Just spit it out," Claudia was getting a little impatient.

"Um, Hector and I heard a couple of the nurses talking," Alicia started and sighed. "They said you and Maca were sleeping together." She bit down on her lower lip as she noticed Claudia's eyebrows hike up her forehead. "It's not true, is it?"

"Oh, wow," Claudia said, astonished. "Well, we have slept in the same bed a few times, but as friends. Nothing more." Claudia laughed, relieved that it was nothing worse. "Wait, you guys thought Maca and I were having an affair?"

"Ummm," Alicia paused; disappointed in herself that she had bought into the rumour.

Shaking her head, Claudia grinned. "No, we just had a few late nights out, and then exhausted we just fell asleep,"

"So, you don't find Maca attractive?" Alicia questioned, with a smile, knowing well that the tall pediatrician was very attractive, as was the attractive neurologist in front of her. And if she were inclined to think if Esther wasn't involved, that the two would make a striking couple.

"Yes, very much. She's gorgeous." Claudia's smile brightened.

"And you've never even thought about her as more than friends?" Alicia asked and earned a swat to the arm from Teresa.

"Can I decline to answer that?" Claudia asked.

Teresa spluttered as she saw Claudia laughing as she picked up some folders at the desk and headed off down the hall.

"You're in a good mood," Esther said, joining Claudia as she walked along the corridor.

"Umhummm," Claudia responded. She wanted to tell her and Maca what the rumour going around was before they heard it themselves, but she wanted to do it out of prying eyes…or ears. "How's Maca's mother?"

"Not good," Esther said, sighing. "Her breathing has gotten worse. I had to get my mother to come pick up the kids when she went into respiratory distress."

Claudia put her arm around Esther's back. "And Maca?"

"Trying to be strong, as usual, even though I know it's tearing her apart. Her family often gives her so much grief and yet they rely on her and expect her to do everything."

"That sounds about right," Claudia responded. "Look, I need to talk to you and Maca when you have a moment."

"Rosario is going for tests in a few minutes," Esther said of her mother-in-law. "Why don't you come with me and we'll go."

"In my office. This is not for prying ears or eyes," Claudia responded.

A mixture of curiosity and worry crossed Esther's face. "Claudia?"

"No, it's okay. Come," the neurologist said as they headed towards Rosario Wilson's hospital room.

****

Claudia motioned for Maca and Esther to sit in the chairs in her office. "Water?" she asked, pouring a glass from a pitcher on her desk. Receiving negative responses from them, she sat back in her chair.

"Have you heard any odd rumours today?" Claudia asked them curiously.

Maca shook her head and looked over at her wife in confusion, not understanding the question or the need to have the conversation in private.

"Uhmmm, apparently there's a rumour abound that Maca and I are, or were – I'm not entirely sure of the details – having an affair." Pressing her lips together, Claudia waited to see what her friends' responses would be.

"Say what?!" Maca questioned abruptly.

Then they both turned as Esther just started laughing, surprised at the head nurse's response.

"Cariño?" Maca asked as she put her hand on her wife's arm. Given everything they'd been through and finally gotten back together, this was not exactly the response Maca was expecting – though what she was expecting she was not entirely sure of either.

"Sorry, love. But that has got to be the strangest thing I've heard in a while," Esther said once the giggles calmed. "Where did that come from anyway?"

"Well, it's like a game of Chinese whispers. Something gets said, then gets repeated with a bit of embellishment or eliminated and the next person who hears it takes it in with their own interpretation. What started as a conversation between Maca, myself and a patient's uncle, turned into a rumour that Maca and I were sleeping together, in an affair."

Maca started to laugh, realizing the frame of the situation, and how things got muddled. When her laughing died down, Maca shook her head. "Oh God, I needed that laugh."

Esther, not understanding what had happened, looked questioningly at her partner.

"Claudia here fell asleep sitting up outside the NICU and began snoring." Maca briefly stopped as she noted her friend's somewhat indignant expression before continuing. "The uncle of one of the babies inside was also on the bench outside and woke her up. Anyway we were in the cafeteria just chatting away about the snoring and I said I knew all about it because of her sleeping in our bed."

Esther nodded, joining in on the laughter, now that she knew the source. A few times she'd come home from work to find Claudia and Maca sitting on the bed watching TV, because if they'd been in the family room with the television on, it would have woken the kids. They'd be arguing about the inaccuracies of the medical drama that was on, picking apart the inconsistencies and wrong technique, and the melodramatic storytelling. Esther once commented if they didn't like it, why did they bother watching?

"Eye candy," was the response from both of them, then the giggles. Esther figured if she couldn't beat them, she might as well join them. They'd all three curl up and watch the shows until inevitably they'd fallen asleep.

"You know," Esther started out in amusement as she looked at her wife and then over at Claudia sitting behind her desk, "it might do my reputation a load of good to have people think I'm sleeping with two of the hottest doctors in the hospital. Do you think they'd believe it?"

Maca laughed before throwing one of her pens at Esther.

"Uhm, from what Hector said of Vilches expression when the rumour was just about Maca and I, he was was already picturing the two of us in a more physical manner." Claudia looked down at herself, still carrying some weight from her recent pregnancy. "I think his head might explode if he thought the three of us slept together."

"I don't think he'd be the only one," Maca responded, which sent them all into another round of giggles. "So, who gets to break the news to these nurses?"

"Me," Esther said with a grin. "Then I'm going to give them stocking duties for the next three rotations."


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