I Say a Little Prayer
It had been terribly quiet since George had walked into Webber’s office and rested himself in a chair. The clock had ticked off a full five minutes before anyone spoke. “O’Malley?” the Chief finally asked, as if he needed to verify that the intern hadn’t simply slipped into catatonia.
“Yes,” George replied absently, not helping his cause.
“Talk to me, George,” Webber said.
The younger man blew out a breath, and opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He finally clammed up again, and shook his head apologetically.
“Please, George,” the Chief said. “What happened here today, in this hospital, it was traumatic for everyone involved. But now…you not talking to me…I can’t have that. I can’t. I need to hear you give me a reason,” the older man said.
The Chief groaned. “Doctor O’Malley. You know damn well what I’m talking about.”
“Actually, no. I don’t.”
“Don’t try my patience on this. Don’t. No matter what our personal relationship, the fact remains – ”
“Doctor Shepard was furious. He was going to break apart. I’ve never seen him so angry. And Meredith. She was…” George blinked away a tear. “I’ve seen people die. I’ve watched ‘em die right in front of me on a table in the OR, or on a trauma site, or in the Pit. I’ve seen death.”
“I know,” Webber said.
“But this was a two year-old,” the young doctor protested. “The guy put him in my hands. In my hands, Chief. I had him.”
Webber felt the anguish. It wasn’t something that he didn’t understand. “It’s not your fault, George,” he said.
“Then whose fault is it?” George’s desperation shone in his eyes. “I’m a failure, Chief. I failed my internship, I failed my marriage, I failed this little kid…”
“You did not fail that boy, and I refuse to let you say you did,” Webber said firmly. “He lived longer than he had any reason to. And in his last minutes on Earth, you were the one who held his hand. You were the voice of sanity, of love, of concern. You did not fail him, O’Malley.”
George’s expression was blank with grief. “When I saw Doctor Shepard’s face when we lost the boy, I knew he was feeling the way I felt…that he was so angry…at me, at the world, at the guy who brought the kid in, and…” George sniffed. “I wanted to stop him, and I didn’t want to stop him. You know what I mean? He was going to find this guy. He was going to…I don’t know…but he was…and I just wanted to keep it from happening…or maybe do it first…I just can’t say.”
“Either way, you wanted to protect people, is that what you’re saying?”
“I guess.” He faked a smile. “Failed that too.”
They sat in silence for a moment, before the Chief had to say his next words. He could feel them burning against his heart. “George,” Webber said. “Disciplinary action is going to be recommended against you, up to and possibly including termination of your internship. I hate doing it, but…”
“I understand,” George replied.
“There will be a meeting of the hospital board this evening to determine what actions will be taken. If you would like legal counsel - ”
“No,” George said. He stood up suddenly. “If I’m going to be fired, then that’s…” He pursed his lips. “I hit a man today, Chief. I admit it. I hit a vicious, cruel, violent piece of – ” George’s jaw clenched. “I hit him to stop him from his insistence on inflicting pain on people who didn’t deserve it. I hit him to keep him from doing more damage to – to people I care about.” He bit his lip. “He was hurting people I love, Chief. And even if it costs me my career, I will not apologize. Not to you, not to the board, not to anybody.” He walked to the door. “I’m not sorry, Chief. I’ll never be sorry.”
Alex was trying to focus on what the EMT was saying about the accident scene, but she had this great accent – an innocent Midwestern quality, kind of like the girls back in his Iowa hometown – and truly dazzling green eyes. So he kept shifting his eyes to the chart he was taking notes on, and hoped that her male partner, at six-six and two-seventy, was the jealous and protective type – or at least a world-class interrupter.
Which he wasn't, on either count. He just stood by the door and waited. Patiently.
Thanks for the help, dude, Alex thought.
“I'm sorry, doctor,” the female EMT, whose nametag labeled her as COLLINS, said. “Are you all right?”
Alex blinked. “Yes,” he said. He glanced at his scribbled notes. “So you found the woman at the bottom of the stairs?”
“Yes, on the back of the house,” she said. “Tall deck. Twelve feet to the concrete landing, which is where she was. And they were steep.”
“She was conscious?”
“In and out,” Collins said. “Mostly in.”
“Did she ever mention a kid?”
Collins squinted at the question. “She went on about her baby, yeah. We tried to keep her calm and stable, but she was - ”
“That’s not what I meant,” Alex said, feeling his frustration rise. “Did she ever say anything about a kid named Trevor?”
Collins frowned, mostly at the interruption. Her eyes didn’t turn toward her partner as she asked, “You hear her say 'Trevor' at all, Jimmy?”
Mister Strong-and-Silent shook his head. Again, thanks a million, big guy, Alex thought. “Did you go through the house at all?” he asked.
The woman cleared her throat in a grimly practiced gesture. “No. The call specified where she was – behind the house. We ascertained that the victim needed immediate transport, so we didn't go inside.”
Alex had to ask. “Why not?”
“There was no need.” Collins swallowed hard, and every ounce of her gentility went away. “You may have noticed that we're not police officers or firefighters. And even they need to have permission - or at least a reason - to enter a private residence. We didn't have that, but since we didn't need it, and seeing that we had a pregnant woman at the bottom of a staircase, Jimmy and me, we thought getting her to the hospital might be more important than wandering around her house. I don't know how it works for doctors, but that's how it works for us poor mortals.”
Her partner spoke up. “Sandy,” he rumbled softly.
“No, Jimmy,” she said. “Doctor here's a big boy - if he thinks I screwed something up, he can say what's on his mind.” Collins was up to her full height now, and those great green eyes, now blazing, were latched on to his.
“Fine,” he replied, trying not to let her overpower him. “We had a kid show up here, head smashed in, named Trevor. Less than an hour ago, the woman you brought here was screaming at me, not about the baby she lost, but about another kid. Two guesses on the name.”
Collins exhaled and shook her head. The fire in her eyes died. “Seattle police responded to the scene, they got there after we did,” she said, her voice defeated. “Maybe three minutes. They secured the place for an investigation, so call them.” She spun on her heel and walked out, passing her partner.
Jimmy nodded sadly at Karev. “I'm sorry we couldn't be much help,” he said, then followed her.
Alex stood there for a moment, wondering why he felt like he'd just met a more-evolved version of himself. And it was a hot chick.
For some reason, Cristina wasn’t upset that she was missing out on any big cardio cases right now. Indeed, she was rather content to be the doctor checking on the guy that George O'Malley had laid out cold. Part of it surely had to do with the fascination with the situation itself – Bambi kicked Godzilla’s ass, and hard – but the other part, that was a mystery to her. She looked at the man’s purpled cheek. “You have a mild-to-moderate concussion, some bruising and mild swelling on your jawline. Otherwise, you’re fine.” She scribbled something on his chart. “How’s the pain?”
“No big deal,” he grumbled. “But I ever see that little twerp who hit me, you’ll be able to ask him what pain feels like. Maybe you’ll understand his explanation while he’s spitting teeth.” He seemed to find this comment funny.
Cristina hated macho talk – it made her stomach turn. But even with the guy handcuffed to the hospital bed, she felt the flutter of a few extra butterflies. “I’ll make sure he keeps his distance,” she said, pretending she didn’t feel the shift. “Acetominophen and bed rest for the next week.”
“Week? What the hell?” The man growled. “I got a crew to get back to.”
She stepped closer to the door. “Sir, you do notice the little charm bracelet you’re wearing, right? How that’s attached to the bed frame?”
“I’ll have bail posted by the end of business today,” he said, in a tone that sounded like a threat to Cristina’s ears. “All those jackasses had to do was let me take my guy out of the waiting room. And then that little punk, cheapshotting me. I oughta…”
Cristina suddenly felt the spirit of Miranda Bailey burning in her, and she couldn't keep from letting the fire out. “What you oughta be doing is getting your story straight,” she barked. “Because what that whole waiting room saw was a violent bully who attacked three doctors who were attempting to do their jobs, was prepared to do God knows what to two of them – both women, by the way - while they were defenseless, and then was stopped with an appropriate amount of force by, in your own words, a ‘little twerp punk’ who was, is, and forever will be ten times the man you have ever been, or could ever pretend to be.” She was a little impressed with herself, she had to admit. For good measure, she added, “Unless I miss my guess, you oughta be enjoying prison food for a while.” She opened the door to exit.
He stopped her with vicious words. “Rotten troll bitch,” he glowered.
Cristina felt a small smile form on her lips. “I don’t know what they serve there. Maybe you can request it.”
To Be Continued in Act Three....