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07 February 2007 @ 05:31 pm
 
Thanks to everyone who reviewed last chapter (which felt like eons ago)! Sorry I didn't respond personally to all the comments but by the time I realized I hadn't, it'd been quite some time and it would have felt silly. But they are all appreciated and hopefully you will enjoy this next chapter, as well. XD

Title: Chasing Disaster (3/?)
Author: Juno
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, never mine, same old, same old.



She was already up on the surgical board.

Rex had left the reception desk with the printout with George Williams’s name in his pocket and he had had every intention on hurrying straight to room 217. But he had found himself distracted again, this time by the large white surgical board, where patients and procedures and operating doctors had been scrawled in with either black or blue marker. And he could not help himself; he had to stop and examine the board, as he had done so many times, immediately locating his wife’s name among names that went with faces that he did not know.

Nurses and interns passing by paid him no mind. It was not unusual to find a surgeon studying the board, memorizing times or looking for interesting operations to assist in. To them, nothing was out of the ordinary, while his universe was tilted on its side.

Scheduled for four o’clock, with Dr. Anderson as the attending surgeon, and Dr. Hudson assisting. Amanda Hallomen had already signed up as one of the observing interns.

Before today, Bree had only been in the hospital four times since they had been married, and never for surgery. The first time had been over their honeymoon. They had only spent a few days in the British Isles when Bree contracted a bad case of food poisoning that landed her in the emergency room, which cut their honeymoon short and had led to them blowing a good deal of their savings on a trip to Italy the next year.

The second and third time had been for Andrew and Danielle, eleven months apart. And the last was eight years ago, when pneumonia had left her exhausted and dehydrated because she simply wouldn’t listen to him and let herself rest and recuperate.

He had been there for the food poisoning, holding her hair back as she got sick until they would see her at the emergency room. He had been there to hold her hand when their children were born, and they had laid eyes on them for the first time together. And he’d been there when they’d pumped her full of fluids in the hospital to rehydrate her, bringing her magazines and a book to keep her occupied and bringing the children to visit.

But this time? This time, he couldn’t do anything for her. This time she was alone and would have to fight alone, and it was this time that the battle was the most difficult. Everything was up to Dr. Anderson, and Dr. Hudson, and to Bree herself, to fight when giving up was easier, when the darkness was embracing and seductive and promised no more pain.

He’d been there. He’d been there, and he didn’t want his wife to have to fight back alone.

She didn’t have to. He would be there, he would be there as he had always been there. He would be there in case something went wrong—he would be there to make sure nothing went wrong, and that the surgery was flawless. He wasn’t just a patient’s husband, he was Dr. Rex Van de Kamp and he had as much right as any other doctor in this hospital—including Paul Anderson and Elaine Hudson—to step into that OR, and so he would.

With renewed energy, he reached for one of the markers hanging by the side of the board, uncapping it and going to add his name as an assisting surgeon for Van de Kamp, Bree, 16:00h.

“What do you think you’re doing?” a quiet voice behind Rex questioned. He glanced over his shoulder, the marker still in his hand, to see Dr. Wells, the acting Chief of Surgery, giving him a critical look over the top of his glasses, his arms crossed in front of him.

“Adding my name,” Rex said simply, and Dr. Wells looked past him to regard the board.

“To your wife’s surgery,” he pointed out.

“And?” Rex knew his voice sounded defensive, but every moment he spent here was another moment wasted. And her surgery was soon. He needed those moments. Because…no. Don’t think those things.

“And you know the hospital’s policy well enough,” the chief snapped, sounding a bit irritated at Rex’s flippant response. “No operating on family members.”

His grip on the marker tightened. “She needs me there,” Rex said, his voice harsh with barely contained emotions. “They’re going to operate on her, if something goes wrong, if they screw something up, and I’m not there…” he trailed off, and then glared at the chief with renewed passion. “How could I live with myself?” he demanded. “If something happened to her because I wasn’t there?”

“Dr. Anderson is a fine surgeon,” Dr. Wells said, his voice annoyingly calm and pacifying. “She’s in capable hands.”

“She deserves the best,” Rex replied numbly. “And I have to be there to make sure she gets it.” He raised the marker again. “I’m going in and I’m going to assist on the surgery. And if you don’t want me to, you’re going to have to drag me out of this hospital.”

A hand landed on his arm and annoyed, Rex turned to see Dr. Wells stilling his movement and scowling at him.

“Fine. If you can look me in the eye and tell me that you can go in there and act like it’s just another patient on that table, I’ll let you. If you can tell me that you can cut open your wife, the mother of your children, like it’s just another body, just another day. And if she died on the table with her heart literally in your hands, you could call the time of death without a quiver in your voice or a tear in your eye. And Rex, if you can tell me that, then you’re the only man in this whole damn hospital who could, and if you can tell me that, then you’re certainly not the man I thought you were. And if you could tell me that, frankly, I wouldn’t want you to be a doctor here in the first place.”

Rex fell silent, biting his tongue against the instinctive protesting that welled up in his throat. He wanted to tell him that he was certain that he could put his wife’s needs before his own, certain that he could push any lingering doubts and weaknesses aside, and perform a successful operation. He wanted to protest his professionalism, but somewhere the words got caught in his throat and he didn’t know quite what to say.

Because when he tried to actually picture it, actually actively picture Bree’s surgery, he…couldn’t. The body on the table was never her, it was always some nameless and faceless patient that he barely knew and would barely remember. He had to struggle, viciously, to bring her face and form into focus, and even as he struggled, his mind violently rejected the image and the very idea.

Because when he thought of drawing a scalpel through that creamy white skin that he knew every curve, every contour, every freckle of, he felt nauseous. God, he had gotten sick at the sight of her blood on his scrubs, how could he cut into her and watch it spring forth, on her skin and his hands and everywhere? How could he make her bleed, even if it meant fixing her?

He couldn’t, because Bree wasn’t a patient. Patients, to him, had no discernable identities beyond the walls of the hospital. When he thought of their names, he thought of their conditions, their surgical treatments, and whether they had been a success or a failure.

But when he thought of Bree, of course he thought of the flash of her bright smile when he would come into the kitchen in the morning. Of the curve of her body against his in their bed and the spread of her bright hair against the pillow and against his shoulder, and of Andrew and of Danielle. Bree was so much more than a patient, and he couldn’t treat her like another body on the table, another malfunction that needed correcting.

And yet he couldn’t bring himself to admit that Dr. Wells was right, because he wasn’t proud of the fact that he could not disconnect himself. He wasn’t proud of the fact that he couldn’t let go enough to give his wife the best treatment, the treatment she deserved. He wasn’t proud of the fact that he was, again, putting himself before her, when he had just sworn that he would do exactly the opposite.

“This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be,” Dr. Wells said, obviously frustrated. “What’s one of the first things they teach you as an intern? Keep it professional. Don’t get involved! And this,” he stabbed a finger at the white board, next to the V of Van de Kamp, “well, it doesn’t get any more personal or involved than this! So you need to take a step back, Rex. Take a step back because today, you are not the doctor. You are not her doctor, Rex. You are her husband and I understand that you’re worried, but you are not her doctor.

Rex stayed sullenly silent as Dr. Wells reached for the marker, which he did not surrender.

“If you absolutely must, go up into the gallery. But you take a step into that OR, Dr. Van de Kamp, and I will, as you suggested, have you physically removed.” And now, a bit softer, with a bit more sympathy. “I know you want to help her. But being in there, you’re going to do more harm than good. Just let it be, let Dr. Anderson do his job, and you can monitor her all you want when she’s brought into recovery.”

There was a quiet moment, full of tension as both men stood at an impasse. They each had a hand on one end of the marker, and finally, reluctantly, Rex released his end with a loud exhale.

“Fine,” he said quietly, in bitter defeat.

“Good,” Dr. Wells replied. There was no hint of pride or cockiness in his voice that he had won this argument, just a sort of sad resignedness. “Anderson’s looking for you. He needs you to fill out some forms.”

--

Rex reached Room 217, finally, after forms and surgical boards and printouts, just as the door swung open and one of the nurses, Olivia Fallon, appeared in the hallway, pulling latex gloves off her hands. Sensing his presence, she looked up and offered him a small smile, soft brown eyes full of sympathy.

He was glad when she did not offer him her condolences, or, even worse, try to cheer him up with false encouragement. Instead, she merely nodded in a way that acknowledged but did not try to explain the severity of the situation. “Dr. Van de Kamp,” she said in greeting.

He nodded grimly back, shoving his hands into the pockets of his lab coat. “Olivia,” he responded, and they stood in awkward silence for a moment, until she moved out of the way.

“She’s ready,” she told him softly. “They’ll be here soon. But you have a little while.”

He nodded again, exhaling loudly and taking one hand out of his pocket to comb it nervously through his hair. “Okay,” was all he said in response, until he recalled his manners. Then he added, “Thank you.”

Bree would have been proud.

He hesitated in the doorway, looking across the room to where his wife had been prepped for surgery. Monitors recorded her heart rate and blood pressure, and he allowed himself to be comforted, however briefly, by the steady, consistent beeps that let him know that she was still there, still alive, still his.

But besides the beeping of her heart monitor, there was silence, and Rex did not associate Bree with silence and stillness. She was always moving, always doing, always a flurry of activity, and the light brush of the broom and the clatter of the plates and the sizzle of food cooking always followed her. Even as she slept, she moved ever so slightly and the rustle of the sheets against her skin heralded her existence. Without movement and sound, Bree seemed less of who she was, and further away from the woman he knew. And that scared the hell out of him.

Coming closer, he could see that they had placed an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth in order to assist with her breathing. The cuts on her face had been sutured but still looked strikingly red against her white skin, made even paler with unhealth, and accentuated by the lack of color in her lips and the dark circles under her eyes. Her ankle had been put into a temporary cast that he knew would be replaced with plaster after she came out of surgery, in order to recover for her second surgery.

Someone did this to her. No. No, George Williams did this to her. And the rage was like a serpent, twisting and nipping at his insides, desperate for escape. His fingers flexed and tightened instinctively, adrenaline pumping. George Williams had hurt her and he was here in the same hospital being treated as though he deserved it.

He didn’t want to think about that now. He wanted to think about his wife. Bree. Bree on the bed, Bree ready and prepped for surgery. Bree laying so quiet and so still, her face neither serene nor pained. She simply existed, existed on a plane beyond pain or emotion or sensation. She simply was, and hopefully she would come back. He needed her to come back.

He cleared his throat uncomfortably, and rested his hand briefly, ever so lightly, on the scrub cap that they had tucked her long red hair under. In situations such as these, he knew it was appropriate to say something. Hadn’t he watched so many families, giving what they hoped would not be their last words to their loved ones? And perhaps he had always felt a bit of internal impatience, knowing that their loved ones were deep under the grips of the anaesthetic, and did not and would not hear their family’s cries. But it was simply how it was done, and now he understood the desire to set things right, to make peace. Because even though he knew his wife was far away, he wanted to tell her things that he never dared to tell her awake. Now he understood the helpless feeling of one who had left important things unsaid, and the passionate desire to say them now. Because even if it was too late, even if they could not hear and would never know…at least it would have been said.

But still, Rex looked down at Bree and wondered what things he should say to her. He wasn’t proud of how he had been, and wasn’t proud of how he had treated her in the last few months. The particular offenses, he decided, did not need repeating. Bringing them up would cause more pain than healing, and now, especially right now, the last thing his wife needed was more pain.

But he wanted her to know that he was sorry. And that when he had said that he was happy she was out of his life, he had never, ever meant it. Even at their darkest moments, the idea of a life without Bree had always seemed so much darker and so much colder. And now, on the off chance that maybe she could, in some sense or way, hear him, he wanted her to know that he wanted her to heal with everything he had. He wanted her to know that every part of him longed with an almost crazed desire for her to come through with flying colors. He wanted her to know that he, well…he needed her, and therefore she had to be fine.

“I’ve said…a lot of really stupid things in the past few months. Things that I never should have said, never…never thought I’d ever say, especially to you.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably, glancing towards the door as though he expected to be interrupted at any moment before focusing his attention back on Bree. “And I…I want you to know that I didn’t mean it, any of it, and that…that I’m sorry, Bree. I’m so sorry.”

He instinctively leaned down and pressed a kiss against the top of her hand. Her hand, lying so still, so unlike the wife he knew who would not even know the meaning of the phrase ‘idle hands’. He had a brief moment of panic when he saw that she wasn’t wearing her wedding ring, before logic, which seemed to be sluggish ever since they brought his wife into the ER, kicked in. Of course they would remove any jewelry while examining her and prepping her for surgery. The pearl necklace she usually donned was missing, as well. And of course they were probably in the hospital safe until Bree moved into recovery and they returned them to her, or perhaps one of the doctors or nurses had them on hand and would return them to him.

But still, he had not seen his wife with a naked hand since he had slipped that ring onto her hand over eighteen years ago, and it was terrifying to behold what they had come so very, very close to.

He ran his fingers lightly over her own and down onto the back of her hand, careful to avoid the many scrapes that ran like fine threads along her skin, which was cool to the touch. The silence seemed almost deafening, and he felt as though he was waiting for an answer. Even though he knew, of course, that she was under deep sedation, he almost expected her to open her eyes and give him that look of hers that said she understood, and that she had known all along.

“So you just…just get better, okay? Just hang in there and get better so I can take you home.”

He dragged one of the chairs sitting by the window over to her bedside, and flopped down into it as exhaustion suddenly hit him. He looked over at Bree blearily, as though waiting for her to move or say something, offer him some reassurance as repayment for the reassurance he was giving her.

He thought he should probably tell her he loved her. That was something else people always said, right? And he did, of course, love her, and probably didn’t say it enough—although to be fair, neither did she. But he couldn’t bring himself to say those so-rare words when she couldn’t even hear him, and instead decided to hope that despite everything they had been through recently, she knew.

“I’m sorry I can’t do this for you,” he told her instead, his voice weary. “I’m sorry that I can’t make you better.”

And then he sat with her, in silence, his hand resting on top of hers, until the door swung open and some of Rex’s colleagues filed in, Dr. Anderson leading.

He offered Rex a small smile. “Time to roll,” was all he said, and Rex nodded heavily, looking down at the form on the bed one more time. He wanted to give her hand a squeeze, but with the nasty looking cuts running along it, he was afraid of maybe harming her further. So instead, despite the eyes in the room on him, he leaned over and lightly kissed her forehead before getting up out of the chair and moving out of the way so that his fellow doctors could move to either side of the bed, Dr. Anderson overseeing them as they began to roll her out of the room.

Rex cleared his throat, feeling as though a vise was tightening around his neck. “Um…take care of her,” he commanded, a bit of an order and a bit of a plea.

Anderson nodded in understanding. “Of course,” he replied evenly, the calm cadence of his voice belying any anxieties he may have harbored over operating on the wife of a coworker. For a moment, the two stood in off-putting silence, unsure as to what more could be said, and then Anderson nodded again before turning away and leaving to follow where they were currently wheeling Bree Van de Kamp into OR 3.

Rex followed, a bit lost as to what to do now that he was banned from entering the OR. He had already lost sight of his wife, and Dr. Anderson seemed unconcerned with Rex’s continued presence as he went in the scrub room of OR 3 to prepare to operate.

Rex stopped in front of the door that led into the gallery, feet refusing to take another step. The chief had said that he could go into the gallery, but now, facing it, Rex was uncertain as to whether he wanted to. Did he want to see them cut open Bree? To see his perfectly proper wife exposed in such an awful way in front of doctors to whom she was just another number and condition?

He should be there. He should be there in case something went wrong, in case someone was not working to their full capacity. Because one person, one person not feeling up to par could be the difference between life or death, he had learned so many times. One sluggish hand, one little slip, and everything could come tumbling down.

But if something did happen, what would he be able to do? Banned from the OR, watching from above in the soundproof gallery, did he want to stand witness if something did go wrong? God, if he couldn’t do anything, did he really want to be there if something were to happen?

Could he watch her die?

Footsteps sounded from behind him, coming to a halt a few feet away. He didn’t turn, but instead continued to stare at the door. However, he was glad of the interruption that caused a temporary jolt from his thoughts. He did not like where they had been headed.

“Are you going in?” Craig asked him casually. Rex didn’t bother looking over his shoulder at his colleague when he answered, his hands tightening into tense fists within the pockets of his lab coat.

“I don’t know.”

Craig nodded without offering a word, and Rex was oddly glad of that. Because although he longed for a sense of direction and an idea of what he should do, at the same time he resented being told by anyone who had not been in the exact position he was in now what the proper behavior would be. While he wanted a sense of direction, he did not want to be told what to do by those who couldn’t possibly understand anyway. And so Craig’s lack of advice was comforting.

“It could have been worse,” Rex said abruptly, after a moment of silence. “It could have been a lot worse.” When Craig didn’t answer, he pressed on, talking more for his own benefit than anyone else’s. “I mean, God, we’ve seen it. We’ve seen people come in here with severed limbs, with…with severed spines, with broken necks, people who will never walk again and will never go back to their normal lives.” He exhaled shakily. “And she’ll…she’ll be fine. She’ll need to recover but there’s nothing she can’t recover from. There’s nothing…God, just, thank God, because…” he laughed humorlessly, “can you imagine? Bree, having to rely on someone else for everything for the rest of her life? She’d…” he trailed off, shaking his head. “It could have been worse,” he repeated numbly.

“Yes,” Craig agreed, his voice casual despite the seriousness of the situation, again for which Rex was strangely glad. He of course did not think nor want anyone else to think that anything about this situation was casual, but was tired of nurses and doctors looking at him like he was on the verge of flying apart. He disliked any sympathetic looks and loathed any encouraging words. He, after all, was not the one who had been in the car accident. He did not want the strength that Bree needed, that Danielle and by this time Andrew needed, stuck at home with only a vague idea of what was transpiring. He was tired of being treated like a victim when he most certainly was not.

A hand landed on his shoulder, and Rex looked over at Craig, who had his head tilted a bit as he considered Rex. “Well, I’m going in,” he said, his voice still casual. However, the underlying implications of his statement were clear, and Rex felt a bit of the tension leave his neck at the compromise that had presented itself.

“Okay,” Rex said, keeping his voice similarly calm. “How about you…let me know. What’s happening. If anything…” he trailed off.

Craig nodded. “I could do that,” he replied, as though it didn’t matter much either way. “You’ll be out here, then?”

“Uh, yeah,” Rex said, nodding with perhaps a bit too much zeal. “I’ll just…I’ll be out here. And you can…go in.”

“Okay,” he replied, removing his hand and reaching instead for the handle of the door that lead up into the gallery.

“Okay,” Rex replied faintly, watching as his colleague disappeared. And then he leaned against the wall, sliding down so that he was sitting on the cool tiled floor under the harshly bright fluorescent lights. To wait. And hope.

There was nothing else he could do.








This fic is ending up super long. Anyway. Hope everyone enjoyed!
 
 
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zimbalist on February 8th, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)
ah, i love this fic! great work!!
Junojuno_chan on February 10th, 2007 06:45 am (UTC)
am glad you liked! ^_^ thanks for the encouragement
(Deleted comment)
Junojuno_chan on February 10th, 2007 06:46 am (UTC)
Pfft, I'm the last person to judge someone for putting off reviewing. ;) *is incredibly lazy* Anything at anytime is appreciated! I'm so glad that you're enjoying it.
phineas_gatsbyphineas_gatsby on February 10th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
I already told you that I loved this, but...

(There was the one conversation that you'd already showed me and it made me feel so in-the-know!!)

(oh, and I think you mean "eons" ago. "Ions" are charged particles, which...chem. blecchh)

I liked that he was so worried, for a second there, about her not wearing her wedding ring. They both wore their wedding rings all the time, even while they were separated, that I think that they (were? are?) a couple to whom the rings mean a lot more than just jewelry. It ties in nicely with the infrequent "I love you"s because their "I love you" is more tangible and unspoken--a ring. (I also love that he didn't tell her he loved her because he almost never said it on the show. He's not an "I love you" type.)

And the watching and waiting, oh, poor Rex. I feel so sorry for you!
Junojuno_chan on February 11th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC)
Er, yeah, I did mean eons. Was updating in a hurry to get it in before I left the dorm for six hours (dinner, three hour class, one hour meeting, Grey's at my friend's townhouse), so wasn't paying much attention. So yes, meant eons. And also do know what ions are. *also took chem*

I love that they always wear the rings, even during scenes like the Come Back to Me scene. I also wanted him to say that he loved her but felt that would be a bit cliched and didn't feel quite right. But I wanted him to!

I'm glad you liked the chapter! ^_^ And yes, you did get the sneak peek of the one paragraph from like...a long time ago, haha. It had just been sitting there, chilling on the word document, for a very long time. It finally got to be put to use!