Mending the Tears, part 1
Author: Sally (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Category: A little romance.
Archive: Ephemeral, Gossamer, FLO and LGM, all others ask.
Disclaimers: You think I own these characters? I wish. They should too -- they'd make a lot more money working for me. But they belong to the cheapskates at 1013 Productions, Fox Television and two dudes who go by Morgan and Wong.
Thanks to: Thes, for being a better character in life than I could ever create in fiction. To the divine Martha, just because she's divine and should be worshipped as such. And most of all here to Erynn, for the creation of a simply magnificent piece of fic. I doubt I can come up to her level, but I'll try.
No humans were injured in the writing of this story. I did, however, almost
step on my cat. It's not my fault she wants to sleep right next to the bed.
JANUARY 11, 2000
PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
My name is Deborah Saint John, pronounced Sinjin where I hail from, namely, the sunny, languid, warm city of New Orleans. Emphasis on the warm.
Fucking January. What the hell ever made me come to Pennsylvania?
I'll tell you what brought me here. No, it wasn't a guy or anything tasty like that. I was lured here by an offer to do my residency in emergency medicine.
I must have been out of my fucking mind. I was offered a residency at Louisiana State, but it was in psychiatry, not emergency medicine. I decided I had enough problems coping with my own craziness and would not opt to deal with others' brands of lunacy.
Now you see how misguided I really was.
I like emergency medicine, actually.
I like it best on my days off, which are few and far between these days. Right now I'm living the typical life of a third-year resident, which means all work, no sleep makes Deborah a bitchy girl.
Needless to say, I feel bitchy a lot. And today is worse than most. I had to cover for someone last night. I've had no sleep for nearly two days. I got my period last night, right in the midst of stitching up some loser who'd had a few too many and decided to play Speed Racer on an icy back road. By the time I was done with him, there was more blood from me than him on the floor.
What really pisses me off is, jerks like him will be back in my emergency room in no time. They never get it.
I have yet to meet any guys around here who make me want to take them home, even for an evening. My choices are limited to the other residents, all of whom are as bitchy and sleep deprived as I am, and the locals, who mostly
have IQ's that are less than my height. (72 inches. Yes, I'm an Amazon. That probably helps my sex life even less than fellow residents whose sex drive has been replaced by the need for sleep).
And to top it all off, I'm starving. I was getting ready to enjoy my power breakfast of two Hostess cupcakes and two Little Debbie Devil Dogs when I was paged. I had to work on some geezer with an obstructed bowel. Needless to say, I didnąt have much appetite after that.
All I want to do is sleep and take a shower. In that order.
I've got ten more minutes on shift. In the normal world, that means it's almost quitting time. In the world of medicine, it means that there are ten minutes left for me to be paged and once again have my day shot to shit.
I wander to the vending machines to grab a substitute for my power breakfast. I made the mistake of setting the packages down in the on call room. Never do that. You leave food around here, it's considered fair game.
I'm not really hungry but I need to have something resembling a blood sugar level if I'm even to make it back to my apartment. I'm in the midst of debating as to whether I should go for the Twinkies or the Dolly Madison
Donettes when my pager goes off.
Maybe it will be a message from my mother.
No dice. Itąs 911.
I had seven minutes to go.
"You get the one in Room 4," the triage nurse points at me, handing me the chart that’s been started.
"Lovely. You start an IV on him?" I don't see it in the paperwork.
"No, you didn't order one."
"That's because I haven't fucking seen him yet!" God, get a clue, would you?
"Dr. Saint John, we're all tired," the triage nurse is trying to keep cool with me, but I can see her glaring.
"Sorry." I actually like her, her name's Mel Scarlett. And pissing her off is not in my best interest. The nurses have ways of payback that can make your residency a complete disaster. I've thus far been able to maintain a good rapport with them, but if I don't get some sleep soon, I might as well head back to New Orleans and apply for a job at K Mart.
"'S okay," Mel pats my hand. "Been a long night."
I start to read the paperwork in my hand when Mel taps me again.
"Oh, and Dr. SJ? He's cute."
Paperwork gives the name as Richard P. Langly, birthdate June 28, 1965, male, caucasian, residence given as Washington DC. What the hell is he doing here in the goddamn outback? Must've ended up here by accident. I think of Harrisburg as being a lot like hell -- you don't come here by choice, you end up here.
Maybe he just needs a few stitches and I can send him on his way, and still get home in time to watch reruns of Lonesome Dove’ while I crash on the sofa. Then I read the notes from the nurse's preliminary exam.
I'm not going home anytime soon.
I think to myself, what in the hell ever made me want to do this for a living?
Well, there was near-poverty in teaching Latin at a local Catholic school. Classics majors are not the most marketable employees known to God and man. Then there was the fact that I discovered I really don't like kids that much. So after two years of watching my mouth and making superhuman attempts not to murder any of my young charges, I applied to medical school.
At the time I received my acceptances, I felt that the gods were smiling on me, not playing the sort of cosmic joke. I have since discovered that they are in fact having a good laugh at my expense.
It doesn't list the cause of this guy's injuries. Probably another bar fight gotten ugly, another loser with more muscles than brains trying to prove how much testosterone he's got.
I knock on the door of room 4.
A man's voice calls out, "Come on in." Sounds pretty good for someone who's supposed to be in as bad a shape as this guy is alleged to be. The voice, though, came from a gentleman sitting in what is supposed to be the 'comfy'
chair’ we provide. Shit, he looks old for 34, I think to myself.
"Not me. Him." The man points at the gurney.
I was afraid of that.
The long figure on the gurney is shivering. I turn to Sue Johnston, the nurse who is working with me.
"Get him some blankets."
Sue goes off in search of something to keep this boy warm while I check him over.
He's a mess. His hair is stiff with blood and smells like meat left out overnight. (I should know. I've done it). A cursory exam of him proves that there isn't a spare inch of him that isn't mottled with bruises. The poor man looks like raw hamburger.
"I'm Dr. Saint John," I introduce myself.
He opens his eyelids as much as he can. Looks like he took quite a pounding.
Despite his injuries, he smiles a tiny, sweet smile at me. "Hi." That took all of his energy, I think.
Why are my kneecaps suddenly melting?
I really shouldn't have debated so long over the Twinkies or the Donettes.
"I'm going to be taking care of you," I say gently, settling my hand lightly on his shoulder -- very lightly. I don't have X-rays yet and God only knows what kind of shape it's in.
He smiles that little sweet smile of his again, and looks right at me as best he can.
No, this has nothing to do with hunger...
Mel was right.
LANGLY, IN A GREAT DEAL OF PAIN
Wow, she has gentle hands.
And a nice voice. Love her accent. Course, I'm so dazed and confused right now, it could be William the Refrigerator Perry hanging over me for all I know, but I think I got enough still going on that I know a girl when I feel one. Wish I could get a good look at her face.
"Let's get him all cleaned up and on some oxygen," I hear her accent again.
I'm shivering. But I don't feel quite so cold.
No, this is a good kind of shiver.
I get it again when I feel a soft hand on my shoulder. "Mr. Langly, we're going to have to start an IV on you. You're big time dehydrated and you're gonna need some antibiotics to boot. And soon as we get you a little better oxygenated, we can start feeding you some morphine."
Ah, there is a God.
Want to see her face, but not only are my eyes majorly messed up, but I'm blind as a bat on a good day.
I feel something warm near my face. I open my eyes a little.
Oh man, even as messed up as I am, I can tell she's pretty. I want to look at her more, but I pass out cold.
Making a great impression here, arenąt I?
"So how is he?" I ask the long cool drink of water who is apparently the MD in charge.
She leans wearily against the counter. "So far, he's severely dehydrated, badly bruised, lacerated, has infections starting in several areas, and I'm positive that he's got several broken ribs and a broken arm, although since
we screw up by committee here, I'll have to have the radiology dudes confirm it. His shoulder is dislocated as well. How's that for starters?"
She's a pretty girl. I bet she's a knockout when she's had a few hours of sleep and puts on a little makeup. Too bad Langly's too out of it to notice. Bet he'd go for her. "We also have to check and make sure he's not
hemorrhaging internally. It looks as if he took quite a pounding in the...abdominal area."
Is she blushing a little?
No. Couldn't be. She's a doctor. She sees this stuff all day long.
She is, though.
Two nurses and a young man she introduces as her intern ("just call him Ahab, he doesn't answer to anything else") proceed to work on Langly as she writes her orders.
In between catching glances at my boy, of course. She's trying to be discreet about it, but something keeps drawing her eyes to him, and I don't think it's simply medical assessment.
"I'm going to radiology and I'll be right back," she says, and I notice she is sweating. This is ironic; it's the middle of goddamn January in Pennsylvania and it's not much warmer than the outside in this frigging room.
I thought Langly was out of it, but as she opens the door, he moans sharply.
"Hey Ahab! Do you mind?" Her voice is sharp as she addresses her intern.
"I didnąt do anything!" The young man protests vehemently, but Langly cries out again.
"I'm right here," I move closer to pat his hand. He turns his head the small amount he is capable of. Opens his eyes ever so slightly.
"You mean Dr. Saint John here?"
He nods, a tiny but perceptible affirmative.
I look at him, then at her.
"I think he's gonna live."
DEBORAH SAINT JOHN:
Talk about feeling like you're on the spot.
The older man has his eyes firmly fixed on me, as if he knows something and he's daring me to admit to it.
Christ on a crutch, I wasn't this uptight when I was doing my surgical rotation and the lead surgeon told me to sing. I thought he was joking, but he was dead serious. I pulled myself together just enough to sing a rousing
chorus of "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" by Tom Lehrer. For which I received a solid round of applause, I'll have you know.
There is a lot of humiliation in medical training, but nothing I've been taught ever prepared me for what I think is happening to me.
I've been kicked in the butt by...
"Um... uh... I have to run to radiology. I'll be right back." I can't believe my voice is cracking this much.
"Dr. SJ, are you all right?" Sue Johnston raises her head momentarily to look at me.
I race out of the room with what minimal dignity I still have remaining.
The worst is about to happen.
I have become gossip fodder for the nursing staff.
And all because of... him.
END OF PART 1