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12 January 2007 @ 01:47 am
Title: Chasing Disaster (2/?)
Author: Juno
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine

The hot water ran over his body and Rex stood under the shower spray and willed it all away—the blood, the fear, the whole morning. He closed his eyes tightly and tried to imagine it all sliding off his body and going down the drain in the staff showers and cleansing him.

He hadn’t planned on showering but when he had gone into the locker room to change he had found that the feeling that he was covered in his wife’s blood didn’t go away when he went to put on his spare scrub top. In fact it spread until he was sure he was drenched, soaked to the bone in it. It soaked into his pores and suddenly he had to, had to shower or else he was going to lose it and he was pretty sure losing it would involve vomitting up whatever was left in his stomach.

And partly, he could admit, he was afraid to leave. Here in the solitude of the locker room, the world drowned out by of the drone of the shower, he was safe. And he stood there, caught between selfishness and selflessness.

He should get out. He should be with his wife. She was hurt and she was frightened and he didn’t want her to wake up and find herself alone again, and think herself abandoned. She shouldn’t have to wake up to practically unfamiliar faces, the faces of colleagues she’d met briefly at dinner parties or charity events for the hospital. They shouldn’t have to be the ones she put her trust in to put her back together. He should be there, to hold her hand, to reassure her, to take care of her the way a husband is always supposed to.

And yet he just wanted to run away until she was healed. He didn’t want to look down at her and see pain and blood and broken bones. Bree was unbreakable. And he had always hated her icy façade, her complete belief that she didn’t need anyone, at all, ever, that she could always be strong and in control. But he found, now, when she needed him, when she needed him, needed him to be strong for her…he didn’t know how. He didn’t know what to do when she looked up at him with those pained eyes with their message clear—yes, I believe you when you say you can fix this.

He didn’t even know if he believed himself, and yet it had felt as though Bree, with a single glance, was placing her trust and her faith and her life in his hands.

He paused and finally turned the water off, reaching for his towel and wrapping it around his waist. He couldn’t guarantee her health or safety but he could at least be there. Because if something…if, God forbid, something happened, and she was alone and knew she was alone, and thought it was because he simply didn’t care enough about her to be there for her, he’d never be able to forgive himself.

The locker room was strangely silent and foreboding, and he suddenly wished for company so that he could be occupied by petty conversation instead of tormented by lingering doubts and fears. But at the same time he was sure that chit-chat would irritate him. How could you think I care what you have to say? When my wife is in trouble?

He looked at the scrub top he had discarded, laying on a ball in the ground. In his minds-eye he could see the dark red handprint on it and he was glad it was crumpled up and was instead just a mess of blue and red, nothing distinguishable. After pulling on his new scrub top and bottoms, he suddenly reached for the shirt on the ground and violently shoved it into the trash bin by the door. Because it was never going to be clean. He could wash it and wash it and yet he knew he’d never be able to get the stain of her blood out of it. It had stained beyond the threads of fabric and it would never be clean and so he had to get rid of it.

He pulled on his lab coat as he left the locker room, and he was glad there was no one in the hallway. For a moment, he leaned against the closed door. He knew he needed to go be with his wife—and he didn’t want them to proceed with anything without his knowledge. But his feet seemed to have grown roots.

She’ll hate you if you stay here, he told himself. If you don’t go to her.

She wouldn’t. He was pretty sure that he couldn’t make Bree hate him, not forever. But she’d be hurt and scared and that would be much, much worse, and he’d much rather she hate him. But he didn’t want her to be afraid.

He started as his pager went off. Somehow, he had forgotten that he was still at work, still on duty. Somehow, his entire world had shrunk into his wife and he had forgotten that the rest of the world would continue on.

Well, he couldn’t operate in this state. He was a walking malpractice suit waiting to happen. He’d have to push back the operations that could be pushed back, and hand off the ones that were more immediate to one of the other general surgeons.

Well, he was sure the Chief of Surgery would love that. Back only a few weeks after taking off to recover from his heart attack, a lightened schedule because he still wasn’t feeling up to par or up to keeping the hours he had had before his heart attack, and now he was looking to pawn off the surgeries he had scheduled.

That wasn’t important, he told himself fiercely as he approached the nurse’s station. He would deal with the Chief and the consequences later, but for now, it wasn’t important. For now, Bree was important and he had to, for once, put her first and foremost.

“You paged me?” he asked the receptionist at the nurse’s desk, and she smiled, passing him the receiver to the phone that rested on the counter.

“Yes,” she said. “Your daughter is on the phone, Dr. Van de Kamp. She said it was important.”

Rex blinked in confusion, then hesitantly raised the receiver to his ear. “Danielle?”

“Dad!” Danielle exclaimed, a mixture of relief and frustration in her voice. “Look, I know I’m not supposed to call you at work. But Mom was supposed to pick me up almost an hour ago. And she’s not picking up her cell phone. I mean, what am I supposed to do, walk home?” she asked, a bit of snippiness in her voice.

Rex felt his mouth go dry, and he licked his lips and cleared his throat. “Danielle—“

“And I tried calling Mrs. Mayer thinking whatever, I’ll get my own ride home but Julie said her mom’s going to be gone all day so seriously, I’m totally not walking home so you need to get someone to come get me or give me another number to call or something, okay?”

“Danielle,” he tried again, cutting into his daughter’s tirade, “Mom’s here.”


“She, uh…” he exhaled. “She was in a car accident, honey.”

There was a long pause, and then Danielle answered, her voice short and small. “Oh.”

“She just came in a little while ago.”

“Is she…going to be okay?” Danielle sounded a bit sheepish, a bit more like a little girl than a frustrated teenager, and Rex wished, suddenly, violently, that she could be here so they could take comfort with each other. But he wasn’t sure if he could be strong for Bree, and he knew for certain that he couldn’t be strong for both Bree and Danielle.

“I hope so, sweetheart,” he said gently. “They’re running some tests on her now. But you know your mother.”

“Yeah,” Danielle said, and she sounded a bit comforted, and he was glad that he managed to say something that was at least somewhat right. His track record in the past hadn’t always been the best.

“I’ll call you when I know anything. But for now, call Julie and ask her to call Mrs. Solis to pick you up. I’m sure Mrs. Mayer’ll have her number and if not Julie could just run over to her house. Explain that it’s an emergency. Because I can’t run around trying to find a ride for you, honey, I have to take care of Mom.” And he said it more for his own benefit than for Danielle’s, because he was sure that Danielle didn’t expect him, now, to find her a ride. But he had to say it out loud. He had to take care of Bree.

“I know. Okay. I’ll call her,” Danielle sounded meek and a bit dazed, unlike herself. His heart gave a pang of worry.

“Are you going to be okay, honey?” he asked, turning his back to the receptionist at the desk when he noticed that she was trying to not make it obvious that she was eavesdropping on his conversation.

“Uh, yeah. I guess…just call me later,” she said, not quite a question and not quite a command.

“Okay,” he agreed. “If Mrs. Solis can’t take you home, you can try Mrs. Scavo but if you want her to come get you, you might be there for awhile. But…just try around, okay, honey? And if you can’t find anything, call back here and I’ll…see what I can do.”

“Okay,” Danielle agreed quietly.

There was an awkward silence, and then Rex sighed. “I’m going to go now, sweetie. Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yeah. Just, um, let me know if…” she sighed and trailed off, then finally simply said, “Bye, Dad,” and hung up the phone.

He sighed and replaced the receiver, ignoring the quizzical gaze that the eavesdropping receptionist was giving him and avoiding her eyes because he did not feel like fielding her questions.

He had told his daughter that he needed to take care of her mother. That he needed to take care of his wife. And really, he had wasted enough time stalling and being stupid and scared that he couldn’t be strong for her. He had to stop thinking about it and just try and muddle through this. Because after months of their marriage hanging in limbo, if he couldn’t be there for the one moment where she truly and honestly needed him, then he didn’t know if they could make it.

And so it was with that resolve that he began walking towards where he assumed they were doing the routine tests, his dread increasing with every step. Right now, he was still hanging in limbo but when he saw the results Bree’s injuries would have names and surgeries and chances. And God forbid something was terribly wrong with her, because if one of his colleagues looked at him with those sympathetic faces and said, “We can make her comfortable,” he didn’t know how he would manage to stay in one piece. Everything would fly apart and he wanted, desperately, to stay in limbo so he would never, ever face that possibility.

It was as he walked with a heavy heart that Dr. Anderson encountered him, stopping him in his tracks. “We’ve finished the tests,” he said, his hand steadying on Rex’s arm to keep him from going anywhere. “Come on, I’ll show you the results.”

Rex followed him into his office, where Anderson went behind his desk and lifted a folder that was on the desktop. “There’s some internal bleeding,” Anderson explained, as Rex began to look through Bree’s results. “There’s a laceration on her liver and it’s causing bleeding into her abdominal cavity. We’ll go in as soon as we can and stitch the laceration and drain the blood, and then we’ll deal with the other problems.”

“Other problems?” Rex asked, staring without really seeing at the CT scan results.

“Mmhmm,” he confirmed, reaching for the other file on his desk. Dr. Anderson flipped on the light and put up a few X-rays, and Rex’s stomach twisted uncomfortably. X-rays were just supposed to be X-rays but he never wanted to see them of his wife. “As you can see, she has three broken ribs, and one of them punctured her right lung,” he pointed out. “The hole’s small enough that it should close up on its own, but look—“ he gestured to the spot where the lung had been torn, “the rib never moved back. It’s still pressing into her lung, so we’ll have to go in and move it so both her lung and her ribs can heal.”

“So two surgeries,” Rex concluded numbly.

“Well, yes,” Dr. Anderson admitted. “We’ll go in and stop the bleeding first, because that’s the more immediate problem. We’ll give her a day or two to recover, depending on how she is, and then go in and move the rib. Right now it’s not interfering with her breathing to the point where it is an immediate threat to her health. If something changes, of course, we’d probably have to go in before we want, but for now, we can hope that things go well.”

“Yeah,” Rex replied, unable to keep the edge of bitterness out of his voice. “We can hope.”

“But the good news,” Anderson continued, “is that the MRI showed that a mild concussion is the extent of damage to her head. So she’s very lucky in that respect. Because she was hit from the side, the airbag didn’t deploy and she could have suffered serious head trauma.”

“Yeah,” he responded distractedly, and for a long moment, he simply looked at the hanging X-rays. How many X-rays had he looked at since he had started working at this hospital, so many years ago? How many lab reports had he looked at, like the one sitting open on the table in front of him?

They were facts and figures, probability and chance. And sometimes the chances were good and sometimes they were not, and sometimes the cases were routine and sometimes more rare and fascinating, and of course he liked those even if the person only had a 50% chance of survival versus a more routine procedure with a 90% survival rate. He liked the challenge and he liked beating the odds. And sometimes things did not turn out for the best, but he could always call the time of death, as sad as it could be sometimes. But he could always move past it fairly easily—he had to. There were always other patients who needed help. There were always other reports and other X-rays to examine. Time did not stop for one patient and yet this time, how could it not when it was his wife? And how could he accept anything other than 100% guarantee that she would live and be well, when he knew perfectly well that there was never at 100% guarantee with surgery?

And if the odds were against her and things did not turn out well, would a doctor already thinking of the next injury and the next one who needed help come to him and say in that voice that was sympathetic but nothing more that he was sorry and that he did all he could?

He wanted to be with her. God, he just wanted, in that moment, to be able to hold her hand and brush her hair away from her face and tell her that everything would be all right, not as a doctor, but as her husband. Because as a doctor he could give her the facts and the figures and the probability and chance, but as her husband, the man who loved her, he could hold her while he could and tell her that she would make it because she…she was Bree and therefore how could she not?

Rex opened his mouth to ask Anderson where she was, because he wanted to go to her, but very different words came forward.

“Who hit her?” he demanded suddenly. He tried to keep his voice even and it trembled from the effort. “Who was it?”

Anderson gave him a sidelong glance, surprise and caution in his eyes. “That’s not important,” he said, and his voice was firm. “What’s important is doing what we have to do so that your wife can get better as soon as possible.”

He switched off the light and started taking the X-rays down, but Rex was unable to move from his spot, staring up at where they had been. “They’re going to be prepping her soon in Room 217,” Anderson said quietly.

God. They were going to be prepping her for surgery. This morning she had stood in the kitchen so pristine and perfect, and there had been no sign that this day would be any different from the hundreds and hundreds of others they had similarly begun. But this afternoon she would be going into surgery because she had made the choice to get into her car at that moment, rather than a moment earlier or a moment later.

“Yeah,” he finally replied, when it became clear that Anderson was expecting him to say something. “Um, okay. Then I should…I’m going to go,” he finished lamely, but Anderson nodded in understanding.

“It’s always hard when it’s one of your own,” he said sympathetically, and Rex hated the tone to his voice, which so clearly said This is such a sad thing, and I’m so glad it isn’t happening to me. “No matter how many times you see it as a surgeon, it’s always different when it’s someone you know. Someone you love.”

“Yeah,” he replied brusquely, shoving Bree’s results back at Anderson. If he expected Rex to pour his guts to him, he was sadly mistaken. “Uh, thanks. For finding me.”

And he turned on his heel before Anderson could reply, leaving with every intention of going straight to Room 217.

But as he passed the reception desk again, he paused, gazing with narrowed eyes at the computer that the receptionist furiously typed away at.

He shouldn’t. Anderson was right when he said that getting Bree better was the important thing and the details of the crash like who hit her, damn it shouldn’t be important.

But despite telling himself this, he found himself approaching the desk. “Excuse me.”

The receptionist looked up, granting him a smile. “Yes, Dr. Van de Kamp?”

“I need a printout of the list of everyone who was admitted today,” he said in a tight voice, his heart thudding wildly in his chest. “Please,” he added.

“Of course,” the receptionist replied smoothly, with no hint of suspicion that anything odd was going on. She turned back to the computer and hit a few keys, and his pulse raced as the printer sputtered to life, spitting out the printout that Rex had requested.

“Here you are,” she chirped, handing it over after it was finished printing. Rex stared at her, stunned that it had been so simple to obtain such important information.

“Thank you,” Rex replied when he had gotten ahold of himself. He fought down the cramping of guilt that started in his stomach as he accepted the paper and took a few steps away from the desk so that he would be able to look at it in privacy.

He took a deep breath as he uncertainly thumbed the edges of the paper, hesitating.

Well, he was a doctor here, too. If he wanted to see a list of the patients checked in today, damn it, he was well within his rights to.

But did he really want to know? Maybe Anderson was right, and maybe it would be better if he didn’t have a name to put with the figure he imagined smashing into his wife, sending her car careening of the road.

And yet, could he really turn away now that the information was here, in his hands? Maybe he would feel better if he did have a name, if he wasn’t left to wonder if every man going in and out of the operating room was the other one in the accident. The one who had caused the accident.

He let out his breath, and directed his eyes down, scanning the paper.

Williams, George, was checked in approximately two and a half minutes after Van de Kamp, Bree.

And it felt as though a ball of ice had settled itself in the pit of his stomach when he looked at the words, because Millerson, Andrew had been checked in nine minutes before Bree and Hallows, Violet had been checked in a full twenty minutes after George Williams and the timestamps said it all, and something nagged at him that this was terribly, terribly wrong.

George Williams. It was George Williams. Of all the people who drove on that road a day, hundreds and hundreds of cars and people with different agendas and different lives, it was George Williams who ran straight into his wife’s car.

It had been a T-bone crash.

He saw her.

He had to have, before he hit her. How close was he? So close that the collision was only a breath away? Close enough to see the fear on her face as she turned her head. (God, God, she must have been so scared.)

Or far enough that he could have turned his wheel, resulting in a side-swipe and less serious damage?

If he had side-swiped her, she might not be hurt at all. She might have a few bumps and bruises and scrapes but she’d be able to walk in and out of this hospital before he really had time to digest the fact that she was there. But it had been a perfect T-bone collision, the EMTs had said. To the driver’s side door.

He saw her.

He couldn’t concentrate on this right now. His wife was about to be prepped for surgery and he hadn’t even seen her. He couldn’t think about George Williams, George Williams who had hit his wife, because the thought made his head spin and his pulse race and he wanted to fight. He didn’t know how or what or why, but he wanted to fight.

And he knew he was being stupid, because he knew well enough that accidents occurred, every day. But something nagged at him as he stared at the neat printout, and the hairs on his neck stood on end. And he thought of George Williams seeing his wife’s face and still going and God, he couldn’t breathe when he thought of that.

But no, he couldn’t think about this right now. Bree needed him and that was more important than anything related to George Williams. But before he started briskly walking towards Room 217, where his wife was about to be prepped, he shoved the printout into the pocket of his lab coat.

He couldn’t think about it right now.

But later.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed Chapter 1! I'm glad you guys enjoyed and hope you'll keep reading/reviewing.
Current Mood: accomplished
zimbalist on January 12th, 2007 07:36 am (UTC)
oooooh, omg. please continue, it's so good!
phineas_gatsbyphineas_gatsby on January 12th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
i liked that a lot. i have some stuff to read for school right now, but later today i'll read it again and digest it and come up with a worthwhile comment. for now, lovely job.
phineas_gatsbyphineas_gatsby on January 13th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)
(and she has time at eight on a Friday night; GOD I'm so lame. haha)

I liked the way the beginning started, with a struggle to get clean and the realization that somethings will never be clean. The suspension of reality is also a nice touch--reminds me of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night (we just read it in English) in that it's sort of temporarily protecting him from the pain of the world.

I liked the quick transformation of Danielle from petulant teenager to more of a dutiful woman. I think that it was a very Bree-like thing of her to do, and I definitely believe that Andrew and Danielle are very much like Bree, even if they pretend not to be. And the way that he was grateful for finally having said something right to one of his kids was very in-character.

Also, the thing with the liking a challenge for surgeries? I think that that's very true, too, because once someone's been a doctor for a long time, the body probably seems like a fascinating machine, and you want to find a way to make it work properly again, but if you can't, well, try again. But this is his wife, and that changes everything; his wife isn't a machine that's broken, she's a perfectly made gift from God, and she has to be made perfect again.

And even though I knew it was going to be George, that was a good scene. :-)
Melissa: dhw: True-er words were never writtenaudreyfamous on January 13th, 2007 08:55 pm (UTC)
Danielle's such an ugly bitch.

Okay so I concentrated long enough to read it and I liked it. Hello. We've been over this... as if I wouldn't like it. Boy her injuries are pretty bad... wonder how you thought them up?!?!?!!!!!!

Cause you know I'm gonna bug you.