The End of the Morning (with plenty of vim, vigor, and vitality)
"Aw, sugar," Callie said.
"What?" Addison asked.
"There's a bleeder in here I can't see. Field keeps filling up."
"Need a hand?" Addison glanced over at Karev, who started to move away from the monitor.
"No," Callie replied, and Karev stayed put. She adjusted her stance. "More suction, please. Gotta see this - "
Suddenly, the rapid beep of an alarm crashed through the room. Alex's eyes were wide. "Doctor Montgomery!" he barked. "Fetal heartrate just bottomed out!"
Even through her mask, Addison's frown was pronounced. "We've gotta get the baby out. Everybody, move," she ordered. "Ten blade. Let's go."
George's heart was bursting through his chest as he shined a light on the boy's one good eye. "Pupil's sluggish but responsive," George said.
"Cut those clothes off, O'Malley. And be careful with the head and neck, we don't know the extent of the damage yet," Bailey said. "Get Shepard down here. And Richardson from Pediatrics. And Sloan." She noticed George's blanch at the last name, but she didn't have time to deal with personnel issues. Not even her job, anyway. So she said, "Now, please!" and someone she couldn't quite see reached for the phone.
"Who does this?" Webber asked. "To a kid? What did he do?"
"Oh, my - " George said as he removed the boy's shirt, and noticed the ugly scars on the pale, skinny arms.
"Burns? Heavenly..." Bailey whispered, then gained control of herself again. "Okay, type and cross-match, blood gases, tox - "
The boy's body began to spasm. "He's seizing! Get around the bed!" Webber said. "Keep him safe!"
George pushed all of his weight on to one side, while Bailey practically threw herself against the bottom. "Please stop," she said softly. "Please stop."
"I can't stay," the man protested for the hundredth time. He started and stopped his way in front of the chairs that Lexie had selected, seemingly unable to sit.
Lexie wanted to throttle him, but held back. "I understand that, sir, but you've brought an unidentified trauma patient, a juvenile, into this hospital. We have to have some questions answered."
The man's cell phone buzzed. He looked at the caller ID and whined. "It's my boss. He's gonna kill me."
Lexie tried to remain courteous. "Sir, please, if you help me - "
He ignored Lexie and answered his phone. "This is Chad. Yes. Yes, sir. I'm – I'm at Seattle Grace Hosp – Erik? No. No, please." He looked at Lexie, his eyes desperate. "He's coming. He's coming over."
"Your boss? Why?"
The man shook his head. "Because you won't let me leave."
"Okay," Addison said, studying the woman's uterus, preparing for the next incision. "Carefully."
Alex's eyes widened. "What in the world - " he managed to say.
"What is it?" Callie asked.
"She has - " Alex stammered, " - she has bruising here. Serious damage to one of her kidneys, her spleen. Her abdominal wall."
Callie felt her stomach turn. "You know, people are really going to have to find a new excuse to cover up their domestic violence. Something besides falling down the stairs, anyway."
"Yeah," Alex grimaced.
Callie met Addison's eyes. "What about the baby?"
Addison's expression darkened as she and Alex continued to work. "Running out of time," she said.
Richardson, a tall, thin man with a red and white checked tie, was first to the boy's side, followed closely by Derek, and both took little time in asking all the right questions about situation and current vitals. George was feeling a little relief – he didn't have to look at Sloan right now.
"O'Malley," Derek said, "Let me in."
George tried to step out of the neurosurgeon's way, only to back into the late-arriving Sloan. When he spun to see who he'd collided with, all he could see was the man who'd 'made it easy' for him. They exchanged dirty looks, then Sloan made his way around George.
"...depressed skull fracture, BP and pulse are stable, his pupil's slow to respond," Webber replied to a question someone had asked while George was grumbling in his head.
"Anyone know how it happened?" Derek asked, a trace of shock rattling his tone.
"No," George said. "He was brought in off the street. Guy said he found him in a park while he was on his way to work."
"This isn't a fall off a jungle gym, or on to a rock," Webber grimaced.
"Blunt force trauma, and it was something large. A pipe, maybe, or a baseball bat. What about his left eye?" Richardson asked.
Sloan found his voice. "It's...there's been too much damage. The orbital bone is practically powder."
"Guy who found him – he's still here?" Derek asked Webber.
"Doctor Grey – " Bailey said, catching the confused looks from Mark and Derek, and adding, " - the other one – she took him to the waiting room to get some information."
"Did he ever regain consciousness?" Derek asked.
"No," Bailey said.
"Kid was in a garbage bag," George said. "A garbage bag."
The three attendings all seemed to simultaneous shudder at that. Derek and Mark exchanged head shakes.
"He's stable enough to move?" Richardson asked.
"Yes, but no guarantees that's going to last," Webber said. "We administered diazepam to end his seizure, but I'm not convinced he hasn't had a stroke."
"He'll be lucky if he didn't. O'Malley, get him to CT while we have a shot," Derek ordered.
George nodded, and started rushing the hospital bed away. Sloan added, "Make the trip as smooth as possible. There's a lot of bone fragments drifting around in there."
Sloan's face had twisted into an expression of disgust – one that was mirrored in Derek's sad eyes. They watched as George hurried away, the image of the toddler's knotted and gnarled skin locked in their minds. "That any person could do that to a little kid," Sloan said.
"I know," Derek replied.
"I ever cross paths with that guy..." Sloan frowned.
"Don't think like that."
"'Cause I'm already losing friends left and right," Derek said, looking over at the board where Burke's name was long gone, replaced by one he didn't know. Near it, Addison's was lingering, ghostlike. He cleared his throat. "Don't know if I want to start losing enemies, too," he chuckled sadly.
Karev stood in the scrub room, staring at nothing. It was over. Nothing he could have done. But that didn't comfort him, especially when the echoes of primal rage and fear were roiling in his brain, giving him cold shivers. Fresh pain from ancient wounds.
...please, daddy...please don't, daddy...
"Alex?" One of his superiors had shaken him from his unhappy memories. He turned to see Addison by his side.
"Yes, ma'am," he coughed.
Addison shook her head. "Ma'am? Seriously?"
"Sorry. Kind of lost here," he replied, looking back at the nothing again.
She stood shoulder to shoulder with him. "You did good work in there."
Alex nodded. "I know."
Addison fished for the words. "Seventeen weeks – that's an incredibly tenuous time in any pregnancy. The fetal viability at that stage of development - "
"I know," he sighed.
"It's not your fault," Addison said, stressing each word.
"I know," Alex said, frowning at the void. "It's just - how do you do it? How do you tell a mother that - "
Addison understood, and spoke softly, but firmly. "Don't hide. Don't lie. Don't judge. Just tell the truth."
"And then what?"
"And then...you hold on," she replied.
George and the heavy-set male tech lifted the boy's broken body gently onto the table. "I've never seen anything like this," the tech said, stepping back. "I mean, he's two years old, for Pete's sake."
George chewed on a lower lip. "Yeah, it's – it's kind of unimaginable."
"I don't have any kids," the tech said, "but I do got a niece about his age. I can't stop thinking what I'd do if somebody did something like this to her, you know? What I'd do to the guy." A gnarled fist smacked into a meaty palm.
"Yeah," George said weakly.
"Whoever it was that did this deserves a long time in a little box," the tech snarled. "A long freakin' time."
"Is he secure?" George asked.
"Yeah," the tech said, his eyes flaring a bit. Not at George, mind you, but it was threatening enough to keep the doctor just out of the tech's reach as they started toward the observation room.
"Sir," Lexie said the pacing man. "May I call you Chad?"
He stopped, looked at her for a moment, puzzled. "Yeah," he said finally, like he'd been surprised. "Sure."
"Chad," Lexie said softly. "Sit. Relax."
"I can't relax. Erik – my boss – he's got a real short fuse. And me being here and also late is – it's just gonna make him madder at me. And I can't – I can't deal with him like that, you know?"
"So maybe you sit down," she said. "Take some breaths. You want a drink or something?"
"No," Chad said flatly. "I don't drink."
Lexie squinted at him. "I mean a soda."
Again, Chad seemed surprised. He lightened a bit, even let out something resembling a laugh. "Oh. Right." He thought for a second, then said, "Uhh – a 7-Up or something like that, I guess. You guys have that kind of stuff in hospitals."
"We sure do," Lexie said, standing up. "Come on, we'll go get it together."
"Okay," he said, finally seeming a little looser. Then his eyes caught the figure coming through the sliding doors, and he froze. Lexie turned to see what had him spooked, and when she saw the imposing form, she understood.
"Erik?" she asked.
"My boss," he replied.
Callie was drained after the surgery. Depressed. She'd just finished repairing the shoulder of a woman who was being beaten. Clearly.
The EMT said he'd found her at the bottom of a long staircase. Sure, she'd fallen – most of the cuts and bruises were consistent with that. But the shoulder wasn't.
Procedure was to call the social worker, get the process started. Talk to the police. File more reports. More forms. More paperwork.
But Callie wasn't sure if she could do it right then. A baby had just died, right before her eyes, in that OR. She needed time to breathe. Just a moment.
She noticed someone sidling up to her. "I don't want to talk to you," she muttered.
"Nobody usually does," Sloan replied. "I find that if I just stand near people, after a while, they'll find themselves much chattier. Or they leave. One way or another, I get a reaction."
Callie turned her eyes to him. "What do you want?"
"I heard about your surgery," Mark said. "How's the woman doing?"
"She'll live. It's going to be a rough few months for her, recovering from the injuries - among other things."
Mark nodded sympathetically. "I just saw Addison; she told me about the baby."
"A girl," Callie said. "A tiny, tiny girl."
"I'm sorry you had to see that," he said softly.
It took her a moment to realize he was being sincere. "Thanks."
"Are you gonna be okay?" he asked.
"Sure," Callie said.
"'Cause if you want some company tonight, I'm a willing volunteer," he said. "Even if it's just to talk or sit in silence - or whatever – I can be there."
She wanted to turn to him and see nothing but air – like she'd imagined this brick wall falling on her popsicle stick life, but only saw his face. And she was down enough tonight to say, "Okay."
"I'll drop by tonight," he whispered.
"Yeah," Callie agreed.
And as they turned their attention back to the room, their eyes met Bailey's.
"Doctor Sloan," Bailey said, not even looking at Callie. "The boy from the Pit is going into surgery soon. Are you available to help?"
Mark Sloan, for the first time in years, felt about an inch tall. Bailey had the piercing eagle-eyed stare that he'd heard about, but never experienced for himself until that moment. A stare that made you feel like you were nothing. "Yeah," he replied.
"And Doctor Torres," Bailey continued. "I did finish those schedule reports you requested. They're on your desk. And I apologize for my penmanship; I had to hurry to finish them by your deadline. I was wondering, though, since those particular reports are usually due at the end of the month, not the fifteenth..."
Callie's brain raced to catch up. "Those aren't the twice-monthlies?"
"No," Bailey said sharply. "They aren't."
"Then I need to have you do - "
"Already done." Bailey handed Callie an armload of file folders. "Anything else, Doctor Torres?"
Callie blinked. "No," she said. "Thank you, Doctor Bailey."
"Thank you, Doctor Torres," Bailey replied, a strange smile on her face as she backed away.
Callie felt a shiver. That smile gave her a bad feeling. You never want to hand ammunition to someone who knows how and when to use it, and especially to someone with Miranda Bailey's aim.
(Act Four coming straightaway...)