Spoilers: "Dichotic." Pre-Smallville.
Note: The first thing I wrote when I got the bright idea to acknowledge the fact that Lex spent a large portion of his life in England. Consider that phase over.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not mine.
Feedback: I fiend for it. For the full lyrics to Everclear's "Father of Mine," visit . Don't speak British? Go here:
Helen was spending yet another evening as a secretary: filling in charts on patients she hadn't treated, erasing cases off the board, filing medical directives, and occasionally even working triage.
She wondered if this was all there was to med school. If this was moving up, then she was moving out.
Her unwilling clerical work was made even more unbearable by the clacking of gurney wheels she heard rolling past her on tile floors, the beeping of monitors, the hollering of patients in distress and the calls of their doctors trying to help them. Even the smells of...well, there was an abundance of smells. She glanced up at the clock and it was only 2:13; her shift didn't end for another six hours. She decided to be a little proactive. She spotted Dr. Shwartzman, Chief of the ER.
"Dr. Shwartzman," she called, jogging from behind the front desk. He kept walking by at a clipped pace. "Dr. Shwartzman." She tapped his back. He turned around.
"Yes, Dr. Rice?"
"Bryce, sir," she corrected, trying to be humble. "I am thrilled to be experiencing my ER rotation at Metropolis General—"
"Glad to hear it," he said. He kept walking. She followed him.
"But, um," —she swallowed— "Dr. Shwartzman, I'm afraid I'm not working at my full potential."
He laughed. "Dear, I've been in the business for 23 years, and still have those days." He turned to her, but never stopped. "You learn to manage those feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, failure, cynicism."
Helen was a little bewildered, but continued.
"I wasn't so much speaking of cynicism, as, um. Well, I spend a lot of time idle, and I feel like I should be in the traumas, in the rooms, experiencing medicine, not watching it."
They were approaching an elevator. Dr. Shwartzman looked up from the chart he was perusing. He had barely been listening.
"Dr. Rice, Dr. Blake handles all complaints from the residents." A bell rang and the door opened. "Going up?"
"No," Helen said, disappointed. He didn't even know her name, and she was too embarrassed to tell him she wasn't even a doctor yet. She turned and walked back to the ER. Begrudgingly she made her way to her chair at the front desk. She looked around. It was like she was trapped in a funhouse with smoke and mirrors. She saw activity swirling all around her, but was not a part of it.
"Want a croissant? Complimentary from the drug rep," Marilyn offered. Helen shook her head. Just then she spotted Dr. Blake.
He was the chief resident, barely 30, but was already all business. He wasn't mean per se, but looked like he was on the verge of quitting at any moment and seemed to resent having to help anyone under him. The residents hesitated, almost felt guilty, to approach him. The med students didn't even bother. Helen almost didn't, but he was her only chance.
"Dr. Blake," she said. He turned around in his typical frenzied manner.
"Yes, Helen," he said, motioning his hand like if she didn't produce a sentence in two seconds he would self-combust. She was surprised he had even responded. She approached him hurriedly, explaining all the way.
"Dr. Blake, thanks so much for your time, I just wanted to explain something that's been bothering me."
His faced dropped and his eyes widened.
"People are dying. Bottom line me, Helen," he said.
"I've been pushing papers all night. I would really love to—"
"Curtain 3," he said, and walked off. Helen wasn't sure if she heard correctly. She followed him.
"Did you say Curtain 3?" she asked. He spun on his heels dramatically and looked her dead in the eyes.
"Helen, do you want a patient or not?" he said. She nodded eagerly. With that he vanished into the madhouse that was the ER.
It was all she could do to mask the giddiness she felt inside. She had wanted to ask if she needed a resident to supervise her with the patient, but had been too dumbstruck. She figured she could handle it. She walked up to the curtain, but paused before entering. She straightened her coat, arranged her stethoscope, and double-checked her pen in her left pocket. She was ready.
She pulled back the curtain and walked in.
There was a young man, perhaps in his late teens, lying on the bed. He was moaning, and rocking back and forth. It sounded like he was talking. She glanced down at his chart.
"Hello, Alexander. I'm—" she paused. She wasn't a doctor yet, but he didn't know that. "I'm Dr. Bryce and I'll be your physician for this evening," she said. The patient didn't respond. She approached him and looked him up and down. She didn't see any evidence of cuts or wounds. "What seems to be the matter?"
"My head hurts," he started, still rocking and his eyes closed, "and my eyes."
She mentally ran through a battery of illnesses. Maybe it was astrocytoma.
"And my stomach hurts," he suddenly added.
She thought again. Maybe it was primary sclerosing cholangitis. She took one of his hands and turned up the palm. She could make a case for jaundice.
"Are you itchy?" she inquired.
"Now that you mentioned it," the patient responded. He started frantically scratching all over his body. Not a good sign. "Oh, and my feet hurt." Feet? "And my kneecaps."
Helen was starting to have her suspicions. Perhaps the patient was delusional. She drew closer and leaned in. That's when she smelled it.
"And my eyes hurt." he said.
"Are you drunk?" she asked, disgusted. Suddenly, the patient sat up and nodded his head dizzily.
"Oh yeah!" he said, and collapsed back on to the bed.
"Excuse me, one moment," she said leaving the room. Marilyn called to her.
"How's Richie Rich holding up in there?" she asked, snickering.
"If you're referring to the patient in Curtain 3," Helen started, gathering herself and slowing her pace, "he's... progressing." She stormed off to find Dr. Blake. He was bringing in a trauma patient. She jogged next to the gurney.
"Excuse me, Dr. Blake," she said.
"Kind of busy, right now," he said, pumping a patient's chest as they went. "I thought I gave you something to do."
"A spoiled underage drunk?" Helen yelled. The yelling might have been inappropriate; she chastised herself mentally.
"OK, Helen, this is the run-down. You're a med student, and we're having one of the busiest nights in memory. I don't have anyone to supervise you, and you barely have the clearance to administer Tylenol."
"Can I at least watch this trauma?" she pleaded. He let the gurney whiz past without him.
"Look, Helen," he began. Helen was already deflated. You never wanted to be on the receiving end of a sentence from Dr. Blake that started with "Look." "I've assigned you to a VIP patient. He is intoxicated and a minor. This means we cannot allow him out on the street, but his father can't pick him up until three hours from now. So, I suggest—for the sake of malpractice suits and litigants everywhere—that you go back in there and babysit him until further notice."
Helen glared at Dr. Blake with a barely restrained malice. The expression didn't go unnoticed.
"If you're going into tummy tuckology," he said in reply to the expression on her face, "believe me, you'll learn a lot more from him than from this MI. Now excuse me." He chased the gurney and disappeared around the corner.
Screw the lawyers, this guy was about to get dumped on someone else. Some punk with a daddy on the school board wasn't going to monopolize her time. Helen took a long, loud breath and marched back to the room. She found the patient sitting up and singing.
"Father of mine. Da da da da de dum. Tell me where did you go. Da da da da de dum. When you look back at your wasted life..." Helen had never heard that song before, but was fairly sure he was getting it wrong. He stopped singing. "What's the rest to that song by Everclear?"
"Ooh, that's good stuff. Goes down like water. One shot and you're from here to high heaven."
Helen shifted in her chair and reached for the aforementioned pen. "What brought you here?" Other than being plastered, she thought as a footnote.
"You can't get that stuff in the UK. I know. I tried."
"Excuse me, Alexander—"
"Call me Lex, please." He took on a British accent. "Only barmy bints call me Alexander."
Helen looked down at the chart again. Her mouth fell agape with astonishment. She had never made the connection between the name Lex and Alexander. This was the Lex Luthor—teen terror.
"You from England?" he asked, continuing his impersonation. Helen shook her head no. She was too depressed to talk. "You look Welsh. Hey, are you Catherine Zeta-Jones?" he asked, through a snort and laugh that ended in a hiccup. "I'm so glad to be away from that place. I can't stomach another pudding or fish and chips or butty."
"I'm loving this little chitty-chat" Helen said, mockingly, "but I have to ask you a few questions. First, what brought you to the ER?"
"Some bloke I hardly know, and God he mings. At any rate, he and I were crossing over to his gaffe, so we ambled onto the Pelican crossing and I found myself on the bonnet of some berk's motor."
Helen leaned forward and squinted her eyes.
"What?" she asked in absolute confoundment.
Lex collapsed into laughter that gradually morphed into a silent scowl.
"I don't feel well," he mumbled, suddenly American again. Helen knew what that meant. He started heaving forward and his cheeks bulged. She grabbed a wash pan and raced over to him, setting it down on his lap, just in time. But to her dismay, he leaned over the side of the bed.
"Idiot!" she yelled. She caught herself. "The bucket!" She motioned towards the pan.
"Oh," he groaned. He leaned over and vomited again. Helen left to go find an orderly.
"Marilyn, can we have an orderly in Curtain 3?"
"We're a little backed up, right now, but I'll put in a request."
"What about a janitor?" she begged.
"I'll do what I can," she said picking up the phone. Just then a smartly dressed man in black approached the desk.
"I'm looking for an Alexander Luthor?" the man inquired.
"Right this way," Helen motioned, leading him behind the curtain.
Lex was lying back now, and the vomiting had calmed him considerably.
"I take it you are his father?" Helen asked.
"No, his driver," the man clarified. "His father is due into town later than he thought, and I was sent here to pick him up."
Helen was apprehensive.
"I'm not sure that we can release him to a non-custodial adult without parental consent. Is there some way we can contact him?"
"I'm afraid I don't have his number," the man explained. "I'm sure Lex does."
"Lex," Helen called to him. He didn't respond. She tapped him.
"What do you want?" he moaned, with a little aggression.
"Lex, we need you to call your father so you can be discharged."
"I can't release that information. You're just going to go sell it to the Inquisitor," he said, yelling "the Inquisitor" for some reason. He yelled from then on out. "Leave me alone."
"Lex," Helen intoned. She was losing patience. She took on the slow deliberate articulation of someone who's speaking English to someone who does not. She could only hope some of her words would get through. "Call your father." She pressed the phone into his hand. He poked around at some numbers, before lazily bringing it to his ear. Helen grabbed the phone.
"Hello?" she heard on the other end.
"Hello, this is Dr. Helen Bryce. I have your son here at Metropolis General—" Helen heard screaming into the phone. It sounded like a woman.
"Why? He was at a friend's house spending the night. What happened?" Yep, it was a woman, and she was hysterical.
"Is this Mr. Luthor?" Helen asked.
"No... Mary Bates," the woman said. Her tone switched from hysterical to furious. "You should make sure of these things before you launch into telling people bad news. You almost gave me a heart attack." Helen was mortified.
"I am sooo sorry Mrs. Bates." she replied. The woman replied with a dial tone. "LEX!" she screamed. She grabbed him by his shirt collar, before the stench made her drop him again. "You have got to call your father!"
"I can't remember the number!" he yelled back.
"He does this all the time," the driver interjected. "Just let me take him home."
"It's against policy," Helen insisted. "Excuse me." She left the room. She saw Dr. Blake and made a bee-line for him.
"Dr. Blake, I'm sorry, just—"
He cut her off, and, of course, started yelling.
"I've had expectant fathers who delivered their own babies in the ambulance bay ask me less questions. What could you possibly need?"
"The patient's chauffeur came to pick him up. Should I release him?"
Dr. Blake looked at her with mock astonishment. "Um, yeah."
"But we don't have parental consent."
"Let me explain this slowly," he began, "He didn't have any injuries. You didn't run any tests. He wasn't administered any drugs. He wasn't even treated. Lex Luthor was never here. Get him out of my hospital!" He walked off.
Helen strolled back to the curtain. She walked towards the rear of the room and grabbed her chart, without eye contact with either man.
"You can have him. Get him out of here," she said.
"Thank you," the driver said. He took both of Lex's hands and pulled him upright. He then turned Lex until his legs were hanging off of the bed. Then with a tug, got him onto his feet. He walked him towards the curtain. It seemed as if he had done this before. After nodding at Helen one final time, he walked Lex out of the hospital.
Helen was appalled by the entire ordeal. Pandering to the rich was not why she was in school, and it wasn't what she was going to do the rest of her life.
She stormed over to the front desk, grabbed her coat and purse, and headed for the door.
"Where you going?" Marilyn asked.
"Home," Helen yelled as the doors shut behind her.