Forty-six Minutes to Noon (ask for it by name)
Derek was approaching CT when he bumped into Meredith, who gave him a warm smile. “Howdy, stranger,” she said.
“Yeah,” he replied in a featureless tone, which made her smile disappear. “Is the boy being checked out?”
Meredith's eyes turned cool. “Yes,” she said. “George is in there - ”
“Good,” Derek said, and made a move for the door.
“You have to talk to me like a human being sometime,” she said, disappointment in her voice. “You are my attending, after all.”
“Oh, I see,” Derek replied. “You want to talk now. Not before. Not when I need you to talk.”
“About what?” Meredith asked.
“Anything,” Derek said. “Everything. I was ready, you weren't. I was in love, so I stayed patient.”
Meredith blinked. “You were in love.”
Derek shook his head. “And you still wouldn't talk. Now, all of a sudden, I'm supposed to snap to, because you - ”
“Stop it,” Meredith said.
Derek couldn't. “You're acting like – like nothing has happened. You can't act like nothing has happened.”
“I'm not,” she replied.
“Yes, you are. You look at me, and you smile at me, and you want to talk and have lunch and act like nothing has happened. Like I didn't say anything, or you didn't.” Derek exhaled hard. “You proclaimed us over. In front of God and everyone. And now, you look at me – and – ” he frowned. “Something happened, Meredith. We have to face - ”
Suddenly, George appeared in the doorway, his face a deathly pale. “Doctor Shepard!” he cried, sprinting around the corner into the scanning room. “The boy's crashing!”
“Miss Young?” Alex asked the woman in the recovery room. She looked even more drained and tired now – mostly because of the stress of the surgery and the power of general anesthesia, but there was something else in her eyes. He recognized it: fear. So he tried to keep his voice low and calming. “Miss Young?” he asked again.
She finally picked him up in her eyeline. “What – where's – where's my baby?” she asked, her voice a low rasp.
Alex took a deep breath to gather his strength, and to remember Addison's words. “I'm sorry, Miss Young,” he said finally. “There were complications during the surgery, and those required us to deliver your baby via C-section.”
Heather was still hazy. “C-section? What?”
Alex started over, trying to hold his patient's attention. “We had to perform an emergency Caesarian childbirth.”
“Yes, Miss Young.” He breathed again. “I'm sorry - the baby did not survive.” Every word burned in his mouth.
Heather blinked at him. “What are you talking about?”
“I am sorry,” Alex said, holding his attention on her. “We did everything we could.”
“Where's my baby?” she asked, her voice straining.
Alex's jaw tightened. “Miss Young,” he said. “Your baby did not - ”
“Where is my Trevor?” the woman cried. Her voice filled with tears. “Where is my baby?”
Alex's mind raced to catch up to what he'd just heard. “Miss Young, you had a girl,” he said, almost to hear his own confirmation. “She didn’t – ”
Tears poured from Heather's eyes. “Where's my Trevor?!”
“Trevor?” Alex asked urgently, confusion flooding one part of his mind. The other part had started paying nervous attention to a recovering patient as her blood pressure and pulse rate rose on the increasingly busy cardiac monitor.
“Where – where is Trevor?!” she sobbed.
“Heather?” he asked, grabbing her hand, trying to reach through the fog and guide her to a calmer place. “Heather, please. Who is Trevor?”
“My baby!” she cried.
“Aw, don't do this, buddy,” George whispered as he performed chest compressions on the toddler.
“I still can't find a pulse,” Meredith said, shutting off the screaming alarm.
“Crash cart!” George cried. “We need the paddles!”
Derek opened the boy's only intact eyelid, took one glance, and then couldn't look up. “Stop. Just - ” Derek said. George and Meredith kept working, hoping against hope. Derek finally found the strength to turn his gaze to them, but his expression was empty. “Pupil's blown.”
George stepped back with a hard exhale. His eyes were misty. “I – I brought him in to the Pit,” he said, a choke in his voice. “I brought him here. I – I – he - ” George’s arms dropped. “He was fighting. I could feel it.”
“He wasn't strong enough to beat this one,” Derek whispered. He crossed his arms in front of himself. “We didn't catch it in time.”
“I'm sorry. Doctor Shepard, I’m sorry - I should have reacted faster - ” George said softly.
“You did fine, O'Malley,” Derek replied. “All the right things. Did what you could, as quick as you could. That's all anyone can ask.” Derek stalked the CT room like a caged lion, his whole being trembling. Blood was pounding against his eardrums as his gaze never left the toddler's now-lifeless body. He might have noticed Meredith's frozen frown and George's crumpled shoulders if he could see straight, but that wasn't in the cards right now.
“Someone needs to call it,” Meredith said gently.
“Intracerebral hemorrhage,” George said, his voice seeming to come from somewhere far away. “I saw it – just a split second before – ” George's voice turned to a strangled sob. “ - before he crashed. I didn't – I didn't move fast enough.”
“George,” Meredith said, grabbing George's hand, which raised his eyes to hers. “Derek's right. You did everything you could.”
George was still frowning, but he nodded in silent agreement. “Doctor Shepard?” he asked sadly. “Are you going to call it?”
Derek was still pacing, his attention no longer in the room. “Stroked out – just a boy. A little boy who didn't do anything to anybody.” He gnashed his teeth. “Punk who did this might as well have shot him in the head. It would have been faster, did the same amount of damage. But no. This kid's gotta die slow. Feeling everything. Suffering every second.”
“Derek?” Meredith asked, trying to approach him, to catch his gaze. “Derek. Are you - ”
He didn't raise his eyes to meet hers, or even seem to hear her, because he went for the door, and flung it open as he raced out. Meredith and George looked at each other and after a flash of unspoken conversation, George sped after him, following the attending into the hallway. “Doctor Shepard?” he called to the neurosurgeon. “Where are you going?”
“To talk to the guy who brought this kid into my hospital,” he said through a clenched jaw.
Hearing that, George quickened his pace, but tried not to seem obviously in pursuit.
Back in the room, Meredith found her watch, looked once more at the limp form, and said to no one, “Time of death, eleven-fourteen a.m.” Then she ran in to the hall herself, and tried to catch up to the other two.
(The Final Act is coming...)