?

Log in

 
 
20 July 2007 @ 02:33 pm
 
Yes, I know, it's been beyond forever. Lots has been going on, and honestly, I kind of lost the drive for this fic for awhile. I can't make any promises as to when it'll be finished, all I can promise is that it WILL be finished, if only for my own sanity.

Title: Chasing Disaster (4/?)
Author: Juno
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't own Desperate Housewives or any of its characters.



Rex turned the computer printout over in his hands, not bothering to gaze down at the paper that was by this point creased with fold lines and crinkled with thumb prints. He did not need to see what he knew so very well.

Williams, George. Checked in two and a half minutes after Van de Kamp, Bree.

Their names had no more or less significance, at first glance, than any other name on the list. All the names were neatly typed, the same font and size and the same information provided. And yet they had changed everything, and they were the reason why he was sitting outside of an operating room instead of going about his daily routine, why his patients had to be told, certainly not for the first time in the last few months, that Dr. Van de Kamp would not be available today and their surgeries were going to be postponed or rescheduled with a different attending if they would so like.

Rex had never liked George Williams.

Well, maybe he hadn’t minded him before his marriage to Bree hit the rocks and Bree had set her sights on the pharmacist as a means of revenge. He had never actively liked him but he hadn’t actively disliked him, either. He was certainly annoying, as he simpered at his wife and gave off the air of a starving puppy dog looking for a meal and a pat on the head, but he was…well…just the pharmacist. And then suddenly he had been Bree’s date, her new boyfriend and it had been ridiculous, but, well, despite the fact that the whole situation was ridiculous Rex still hadn’t liked George.

He liked George even less when the other man did not gracefully step aside while he and Bree tried to put the fragments of their marriage back together. He disliked his attempts to kinder a ‘friendship’ with his wife, to try and worm his way into their relationship and into their lives. He hated that the other man seemed to have a deeper understanding of Rex’s wife than Rex himself did, and that he always looked at Rex with those simpering, smug eyes, as though he had won even though Bree was his wife.

Rex had never liked George Williams, but he had never felt anything quite like this before.

‘This’ was the feeling of being threatened. ‘This’ was the ball of rage that seemed to have settled permanently in his stomach, tight as a clenched fist and heavy as lead. ‘This’ was the knowledge that somewhere, in the hospital, was George Williams, maybe with injuries worse than Bree’s, maybe with only a few bumps and bruises, but being treated either way. Being treated when he had hit Bree.

It was irrational to think otherwise, he knew. Who was he to decide who deserved treatment or not? But Rex could not escape that troubling feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him that the chances of George, of all people, George accidently hitting his wife were slim. That this was no normal accident. And every time his mind arrived at this conclusion, he would quickly change his train of thought because he did not trust what he would do if he did find out that it was no normal accident, when the image of his wife’s eyes, pained and frightened, flitted through his mind.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, back against the wall, knees up near his chest, silently still. The world seemed to hang in limbo while Bree was in surgery and his friend watched and he, like a coward, waited in the hall.

But eventually Lee Craig returned, shutting the door to the gallery calmly behind him before directing his gaze to Rex crouched on the floor. His expression didn’t change, and he addressed Rex with the same casual voice he had used all along, that was at once both off-putting and so comforting.

“They’re wheeling her into recovery now,” he said nonchalantly. “Surgery went beautifully.”

“Oh,” Rex answered vaguely, crinkling and uncrinkling the printout in his hands, feeling his heart settle back somewhere in his chest cavity, and his shoulders release their tension. The first surgery was over.

She’s only halfway there. And, ah, there it was again, that hard pit that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his stomach.

But he still climbed to his feet, jamming his hands complete with printout in the pockets of his lab coat, unsure as to what to say now. “Um. Thanks,” he said awkwardly, and Craig raised an eyebrow.

“Why?” he answered, almost sounding bored now, but the compassionate look in his eyes belying his tone. “I didn’t do anything.”

At this Rex had to crack a smile, however small, allowing himself a moment to appreciate that his friend had saved him from having to make an impossible decision and that for now, Bree was safe. “Yeah. So thanks for nothing, I guess,” he weakly joked, and Craig clapped him on the shoulder before strolling down the hallway to go on with his day.

And that was where they were different, because although he knew Bree, for now Craig had another things to attend to, while Rex…for Rex it was only beginning. For Rex there were no other ‘things’. There was just Bree.

He headed off down the hallway, fully intending to head straight to recovery so that he could be there when Bree woke up. It was through no conscious decision of his own that he took the left turn instead of the right turn at the end of the hallway and ended up heading towards the room that, according to the printout in his pocket, held George Williams.

Rex stopped in front of the door—he couldn’t go in, of course, and from his position in the doorway he couldn’t even get a good look at George—all he could see was the foot of the bed and hear the steady beep of the machines mixed with the drone of the television. He had no way to judge the other man’s condition, but he didn’t dare take another step forward. He didn’t trust himself to face the man responsible for Bree’s condition, at least not at this moment.

He exhaled loudly, wondering why he had bothered to stop here, anyway. He should be with his wife, who was resting in the complete opposite direction. And yet, in a split-second decision he yanked the chart sitting in the container on the door to George’s room, and, with a face guilty as a thief, he hurried off to his office before someone could see what he had done.

--

He wrinkled his brow as he sat down in his chair, well-worn just the way he liked it (although Bree always looked at it with distaste and tried to convince him to get a new one whenever she stopped by), and opened the file.

It was wrong. He knew that, and he could admit that to himself. He wasn’t George Williams’ doctor, and he had no professional reason to be reading through his file. He was not on call for a consult, there was nothing that he could use to justify his swiping and now pouring over his files, except the truth: this was the man who hit his wife and damned if he wasn’t going to get answers.

George Williams had a broken leg, arm, and nose, as well as some lacerations and bruising. His leg had been badly crushed and required staples and a gash on his stomach was in danger of infection and so he was receiving antibiotics.

A toxins screening had come back clean—George had no alcohol or medication in his system that could have impaired his driving ability. A witness statement said that he had run straight through the red light and t-boned another vehicle (Bree’s vehicle), pinning it against a pole. His car had not been veering and had picked up speed while heading through the intersection. So, it was reasonable to deduce that George had not fallen asleep at the wheel since he seemed to be in control of his vehicle.

He seemed to be in control when he pinned Bree’s car up against a pole, and he came away with a few broken bones, a few bumps and bruises, and a round of antibiotics.

The idea didn’t really register with Rex, and he continued to stare down at the file spread across his desk, as though searching for some hidden truth, some clue or message to pop out at him and scream ”this is what you’re looking for!” Because Rex considered himself at least a reasonably intelligent man—he was a surgeon, after all—and yet he couldn’t seem to process the idea, the possibility that George Williams…George Williams did not fall asleep at the wheel, he was not drunk or incapacitated, and likely hit Bree’s car knowing full well that there was going to be a crash.

He kept his head bowed, the news pressing like a heavy hand at the back of his neck, and he did not raise it even as he heard a timid knock on the open office door.

“Um. Yeah,” he murmured in response, still staring blankly at the file in front of him. (Did he know there would be an accident?)

“Dr. Van de Kamp?” the hesitant voice of one of the nurses’ aides came—that same damned timid and soothing voice that all of his colleagues had been using, as though he were the patient and they had to tip-toe around him lest they upset his poor delicate condition.

The thought annoyed him, and so his voice was perhaps a bit harsher than he intended when he finally raised his head. “What?”

The aide held up a small bag, and if she was taken aback by his brusque reply, she didn’t let on. Instead she offered him a tentative smile. “I have some of your wife’s things.”

She faltered when he did not reply—he could almost literally see the cool collected confidence drain out of her face, and he felt a flare of completely undeserved triumph for having rattled her. At least they could not predict him. At least they did not know exactly what he needed, exactly how they should act.

When he was content with knowing that he had made her uncomfortable, Rex got to his feet and headed for the door, taking the bag from her. “Thank you,” he replied in his more normal tone, feeling a twinge of guilt for purposely trying to trip her up. As much as the sympathy of his colleagues grated him, they were only trying to comfort him and he shouldn’t be more difficult in response.

The aide, however, did not seem to take his thanks as the half-apology it was maybe intended to be, and therefore there was a bit of insolence in her voice as she said, “You’re not with her?”

Rex was sure that she intended this to make him feel guilty, and, well, damn her, it worked.

“I, um…” he trailed off. Had some work? Needed to check on things? Anything that he told her would make him seem like a terrible husband who did not care that his wife had just come out of the first of multiple surgeries, and that was not him. At least he hoped. “I was just on my way, actually,” he finally decided, raising his chin and meeting her eyes defiantly.

“Oh,” she said, her voice still suggesting that she did not think much of this reply. “Well, then. I’ll let you go.” And she stood aside to let him pass, and he had no choice but to close the file and place it securely in a locked drawer for the time-being, leave his office and lock the door behind him and head for the recovery wing.

--

The recovery wing was very quiet, full of patients still drowsy and drugged up but lucky, lucky because they were in the recovery wing, and he had to remind himself of this as he approached his wife’s bedside, holding the bag with her things in it firmly in his left hand.

She didn’t look much better.

He didn’t know what he had expected—he, of all people, knew that surgery was not a miracle cure, and that it was called a recovery wing for a reason. But still, it was disheartening to sink down by Bree’s bedside and see that he could still see the purple veins through her translucent skin, and that she still looked as though she had been to hell and back.

He touched her hair—matted, and God, when was the last time he saw Bree with anything other than perfectly styled hair that had been sprayed within an inch of its life? And then he leaned over to lightly kiss her forehead, still afraid in a way that did not match up with his profession that he would do something wrong and hurt her. The doctor in him knew, of course, that he was being ridiculous, but as her husband he couldn’t help but exercise the greatest of caution before settling back into his chair.

He looked into the bag he held, almost with a sense of dread. Her purse, ripped under the zipper. Inside was a broken compact mirror as well as a tube of mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, and concealer. Her wallet had been taken out of her purse, and he pulled that out next and flipped through it. There was a picture of her with Mary Alice, Susan, Lynette, and Gabby, a copy of their wedding picture, and Andrew and Danielle’s school photos. Some money and her credit cards. Her driver’s license was separate and at the bottom of the bag, tossed back in distractedly after they had used it to identify her.

In a separate, smaller, clear plastic bag was her jewelry, which had obviously been treated with a bit more care. A pearl necklace, a few of the pearls broken. Matching pearl earrings, untouched by the accident. And her wedding rings.

He lifted her diamond engagement ring and her wedding band, holding them between his thumb and forefinger. Under the harsh lights of the hospital, they still sparkled as brightly as they had when he had slid them onto her finger with trembling hands so many years ago.

She had been such a beautiful bride. She was such a beautiful woman.

It had been such a long time since he had looked at Bree’s belongings. Her jewelry, her makeup, her purse…they were all components of the façade that made up the woman. And lying on the hospital bed, stripped of those details that made her Bree, she seemed…bare. Naked, almost. Unfinished and incomplete.

So absorbed was he in examining Bree’s things that he almost didn’t hear the slight rustle of sheets, the sound so faint that someone with an untrained ear would have easily missed it. But Rex was used to picking up the small sounds of patients returning to life and so his head snapped up and fixed upon the figure on the bed.

“Bree?” he questioned, moving closer so that he could see more closely whether he was merely imagining—hoping—things, or if his wife really was starting to wake up.

Her eyelids twitched, as though she had not quite figured out how to work them, and her pale lips parted ever so slightly as a quiet whisper of a moan escaped her mouth. Rex’s heart leapt up into his throat, and he caught his breath, waiting to see what she would do next, waiting, waiting…

She opened her eyes, and he let the breath out in a loud rush.

She did not turn her head towards the sound, her eyes unfocused and dazed, and so he came to her.

“Hey,” he said softly, coming closer to her bed, hesitantly touching her shoulder. “Hey, sweetheart.”

Still she did not respond, and Rex felt his heart sink a bit, despite the fact that he knew that it was normal, and that she was just waking up from surgery and if it had been any other patient he would still be happy to see them awake, never mind alert at this point.

But this was not any other patient, and he could not keep pretending, even to himself, that it was. It was Bree, and therefore he could not help but feel disappointed as she remained oblivious to his presence.

Still, he pressed on.

“You were in a car accident,” he told her, gently stroking her hair, making sure not to tug or otherwise cause her any additional discomfort. “It wasn’t your fault,” he quickly assured her. “Someone hit you. But you’re going to be just fine.”

Bree tilted her head to stare at him, green eyes that were clouded with hazy confusion searching his face. He had the feeling that she was not really looking at him, but far past him. She was deep in the grasps of the euphoric effects of the morphine they had her pumped her full of, and he doubted that she understood anything he was telling her.

She broke the gaze, turning her head so that her right cheek pressed against the pillowcase, and the lack of contrast between her coloring and the glaringly white hospital sheets was disarming. Her red hair was spread across the pillowcase, looking like a bloodstain, and when Rex walked over to see what had diverted her interest he saw her staring into nothing.

He pulled his chair around so that he could look into her face, and sat down and took her limp hand in his own, careful not to dislodge her IV or touch the nasty purple bruise that had formed around it. The motion of taking her hand did not draw her attention nor cause her glassy gaze to focus, and while the doctor in him was well aware that the lingering effects of the anesthesia coupled with the morphine were to blame for her dream-like state, as a husband he could not help but wish that she would look at him. Just look at him.

Suddenly a lump rose to the back of his throat, and he had the painful sensation that he could not, not, not do this, could not stay in this room while the walls closed in on him and his wife looked around with eyes that recognized nothing.

“So, um, I just…I wanted to make sure you were okay,” he said lamely, patting her hand while sounding nothing like his usual calm, reassuring self when he addressed his patients. “And I mean, obviously you’re not, but…you’re awake. And you’re going to be fine. You’ll be feeling better in no time.”

No response. Nothing more or less than what he had expected, but the pain of knowing that he did not know how to be strong for Bree still cut deeply. He had spent years wishing that his wife would allow herself to relax her strongholds and let him in—let him take care of her, and here, in this moment, she needed him, more than ever before she needed him to care for her. And all he could do was sit there and pat her hand.

All he had wanted before was to be with her, to be able to hold her and soothe her, but now that he sat next to her in that cramped hospital room, he felt pressed down by a sense of hopelessness that demanded of him ‘what’s the point?’

He couldn’t save Bree. He couldn’t help her or heal her or take her pain away, and as a doctor, sitting helpless as a husband left him feeling pathetic and useless.

Full of self-disgust, he got up, the chair scraping loudly against the tiled floor. Bree flinched and moaned, lolling her head back to the other side, away from the noise, and if possible, he felt even worse.

“I’m sorry,” he said desperately as she closed her eyes, still seemingly unaware that anyone was even in the room, much less trying to talk to her.

He sighed, running a hand through his hair as he released her hand. “Well…” he started hopelessly, “I guess I’ll come back when you’re feeling a bit better.”

Even as he said it, he knew those were the wrong words. He could practically see the nurses’ aide scoffing at him, giving him that same look she had earlier that suggested she was not very impressed by him. He should stay by his wife, monitor and care for her, wait for her to come around. Because if he wasn’t there when she woke up, she would be hurt. And if he wasn’t there when she came around, he would hate himself even more than he did at the moment. And he wanted to take care of her, wanted to help her.

And God, he didn’t want to hurt her.

But Dr. Rex Van de Kamp, always successful, always calm and in control, felt trapped and claustrophobic and as lost as a new medical student in their first surgery.

He did not know how to care for his wife.

And this…it crushed him.

So instead of sitting with her like he had planned, he walked slowly backwards towards the door, looking at her and listening to the steady beeps of her monitors that told him she was alive and fighting strong. She hadn’t opened her eyes again, and he was left to assume that she had fallen back asleep.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, and he meant it. “I’m so sorry, Bree.”

And he left.

Leaving. It seemed to be what he did best, after all.






I know it's been a long time, but comments are, as always, appreciated. :)

 
 
Current Mood: calmcalm
 
 
 
Melissa: dhw: fornicate for usaudreyfamous on July 20th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Who the fuck are you?!
Junojuno_chan on July 22nd, 2007 05:39 am (UTC)
YOUR MOM. XD