Author's Note: This has been a lot of fun to write so far, and I'm pretty pleased with how its coming along. Please feel free to RR and let me know what you think.
Danae watched the dark haired man in the waiting room warily, her fingers flying over the computer keyboard. The Emergency Room paperwork was so familiar to her now, that she could do it without actually paying attention, her hands knew exactly what keys to push and when.
Many nights, the monotony of her job was irritating, but tonight she was glad for it. It allowed her to keep an eye on the lobby's only inhabitant.
He was like a barely contained force of nature, pacing furiously, long Jean-clad legs making short work of the small waiting room, and shooting worried glances at the closed emergency room door where the ER staff was currently working to save the person he had brought in.
To Danae, the man behind the closed door was "Trauma-Fifty-Four" two gunshot wounds and multiple injuries from an assault. The dark haired man had half-carried half-dragged the unconscious Trauma-Fifty-Four through the ER doors and it had taken four security guards to pull him away. He had sworn and yelled pushing and shoving until Danae had stepped in front of him, arms crossed over her chest.
"This isn't helping him." She had said, inclining her head toward the rapidly filling room. "The longer you cause problems, the longer it will take for us to take care of him."
It was an oft-used phrase, Danae had long since lost count of how many times she had employed it, and spoken in a low, firm voice, it always seemed to work.
This time was no different. The dark haired man had halted; shaking off the security guards' restraining hands and had fixed her with an icy glare so intense that her first instinct was to recoil. But she had held her ground and in the end, he had relented, turning on his heel and stalking into the lobby.
The closed door opened, catching Danae's attention, and a nurse stuck her head out. "Move him to surgery." She said brusquely and then vanished back into the room. Danae tried not to notice the disturbing amount of blood that was splattered across the nurse's smock and smeared on her gloves.
Transferring the emergency room records to Surgery took less than five minutes. Once it was done, she poured two cups of coffee and ventured into the lobby. Sometimes a little kindness went a long way.
"Here." She said, keeping a safe distance and offering a cup to the dark haired man.
He paused only briefly in his pacing, assessing her briskly and then dismissing her, running a trembling hand through his hair. Danae saw a tattoo along his index finger, but it disappeared into his hair before she could read it.
"He's alive." The words were a peace offering and she tried not to smile as they stopped him cold. "The records say he's stable, they're taking him to surgery now."
He turned to face her, blue eyes stormy. "Stable?"
Danae blinked against a sudden, unsettling throb in her chest. He sounded so helpless, so alone; nobody should have to be that lost. She pushed a smile past the lump in her throat "Yes, everything's going to be fine."
As soon as the words were out, she regretted them. She didn't know that everything was going to be fine. In fact, there was a good chance that it wouldn't be, but she wanted to take that haunted look out of his eyes, if only for a moment.
He took in a great shuddering breath and even though he had ceased pacing, he was still moving, vibrating silently. She could almost feel the nervous energy thrumming through him, in desperate need of an outlet. She offered him the Styrofoam cup again and this time he accepted it and offered her the barest hint of a smile. "Thank ye."
They stood awkwardly for a moment, Danae wondering what exactly to say for someone whose entire world was currently in shambles. Somehow, the normal condolences seemed petty and fruitless when compared to the hell this man was going through.
Looking away, he took a sip of the coffee then grimaced. "Christ, this is the worst fuckin' coffee I've ever had." He muttered.
She snorted, knowing all too well that hospital coffee was unparalleled in its disgustingness and he offered her a rueful shake of his head.
"I didn't mean it like that, I mean I 'ppreciate it and all, it's just . . ."
Stopping him with a wave of her hand, Danae looked into her own cup with a skeptically raised eyebrow, "Don't worry, I understand."
When she looked up, he was chewing on his thumb, staring at the closed door. The cup of coffee was shaking so hard in his other hand she was afraid he'd spill it. "Come on." She said softly, "Let's take a walk."
"No, I can't."
"Let them take care of him, they know what they're doing." Another canned phrase, but this time, there was truth in it. The nurses and emergency doctor working tonight surpassed any of the others; there was nobody she would rather trust with her life.
"But I have ta be there for him, if something happens . . ." The torture of not knowing shone in his eyes and if there had ever been any question about it, Danae knew that there wasn't now. Trauma-Fifty-Four was this man's entire world.
"If anything happens, we'll know before the rest of the hospital." She lifted her shirt slightly and jutted out her hip, revealing to him the pager she wore. "It's my job to get the staff where they need to be when things like that happen."
He looked at the pager for a moment, chewing his bottom lip, and then gave a curt nod. "Let's go then."
The air bit through Danae's clothing as they stepped into the hospital courtyard making her shiver. It was too cold for her comfort, but the chilly weather seemed to soothe the dark-haired man. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes, and then reached into his pocket to retrieve a pack of cigarettes. Plucking out two, he lit them: a gesture that had been repeated so many times it was obviously an unconscious habit.
He took one of the cigarettes and stared at it, going still, the other still hanging from his lips. "Fuck." He whispered, and the cigarette in his hand quivered, "Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck . . ."
Danae took the smoke from between his fingers. "Come on," she said softly "let's keep walking."
They had circled the hospital twice, and were starting on their third lap, when her pager went off. They were silent as they walked, the dark-haired man staring into the distance, a cigarette always in his hand. He had stopped lighting a second one for her after catching her discretely tossing them away when she thought he wasn't watching.
The shrill beep of the pager startled them both; Danae looked down and drew in a sharp breath, her heart skipping a beat. "Oh, no." she whispered.
"What?" the dark hair man asked, but she was already moving, sprinting toward the nearest entrance, there was no time for questions, she had to get everyone to surgery now. "What the fuck is it?" he yelled after her.
Her answer floated back on the icy wind. "He's coding!"
Murphy stayed outside, as still and cold as the concrete bench he was sitting on. He had been there since the girl had bolted back into the hospital, leaving him with nothing but two of the most terrorizing words he had ever heard. He's coding.
His entire body trembled, the sickening anxiety he felt was wreaking havoc through his muscles. He accepted the excess of energy without question, channeling it into prayer with a single-minded determination only a few knew that he possessed. He had been there for over three hours, clutching his rosary so tightly it cut into his palms, his breath making misty plumes as he moved his lips in prayer. Sometimes he lit a cigarette and prayed between puffs, sending his words spiraling into the sky on white smoke. He alternated between praying aloud and silently, sometimes reciting prayers that he had learned long ago and sometimes simply talking to God, pleading with Him to let his brother survive the night.
A warm hand over his cold ones made him look up to see a figure standing before him. It was the same girl who had offered him the vile coffee and had wisely gotten him out of the building before he had snapped and hit something. Her dark eyes were apologetic and a kind smile curved her lips, a kind, and sympathetic smile.
The bottom plummeted out of Murphy's stomach and his world. Oh, no, Jesus fuckin' Christ Connor, no. I'm so sorry. This can't be fuckin' happening. I'm sorry, I'm so fuckin' sorry, Connor.
"Is he . . ." the word stuck in Murphy's throat, captured there by grief and rising bile. He didn't want to know, he didn't want to hear her answer. If they didn't speak the words aloud then maybe it wouldnt be true. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered why he didn't already know, they were twins, weren't they? Shouldn't he have already known?
Her words swept over him, meaningless at first, drowned in a sea of anguish and loss, then slowly they sank in. "What?" he breathed, terrified that he had misheard, afraid to hope.
"His heart stopped during surgery, that's what the code was, but the surgeon got it going again, he's been admitted to intensive care and they think that with enough time he'll recover."
Tears gathered in Murphy's eyes and he turned away before she could see them fall. His heart thudded once, painfully, in his chest as the energy he had been channeling into prayer flooded back into his body making him shake with the overwhelming force of it. He was torn between sobbing with relief and the almost overpowering need to laugh.
Desperate to release some of the mounting tension, he ran shaking hands through his hair, then grasped at the rosary around his neck with one hand, patting the pockets of his jacket for a cigarette with the other.
She stopped his frenetic movements with a gentle touch on his elbow. "He's not supposed to have visitors for awhile, but if we hurry, I can sneak you in."
The hospital corridors were eerily silent and empty, nothing like the brightly lit chaos that Murphy had seen so often on television. As they walked down the rows of open doors, he shuddered. Death seemed to be lurking in every room they passed, sinister and patient in the shadows. He chanced a look at the girl walking by his side. She seemed calm and relaxed in comparison, as if finding peace in this disquieting place.
As they rounded a corner into the intensive care unit, four rooms with windows that looked both to the outside and into the hallway greeted them. The girl inclined her head slightly in acknowledgment to a nurse sitting behind the counter and the nurse suddenly announced that she was taking her break, disappearing out the door without a second glance.
Murphy knew which room was Connor's without being told. Walking through the door, he was staggered at the multitude of tubes and wires coming out of his brother. His twin seemed so small, so very vulnerable amongst the plethora of medical equipment that surrounded him. "Oh my God," Murphy choked out, "Fuck." I'm so sorry.
And suddenly he was very, very, angry. Fury, black and writhing filled him and he unleashed it on the girl. "What the fuck is all this?" he yelled, rounding on her and had the satisfaction of watching her eyes widen, "Yer fuckin' killing him. All this shit coming out of him, how the fuck can he breath? Ye're supposed to be helping him and ye're going to fuckin' kill him!"
He started toward his twin, ready to rip the tubes and wires out of his beloved brother, to free him from the equipment, to take him home where he belonged.
It was the same voice she had used in the emergency room, low and firm, the one that reminded him of his Ma and the tone she'd use when her twin boys' scrapping would turn into an earnest fight.
"These are helping him." She gestured toward the tube coming out Connor's mouth "That helps him breath, he can't on his own right now. The I.V. is giving him pain medicine and fluids. The thing on his finger is monitoring his heartbeat. All these things are keeping him safe, helping to keep him alive.
Now go to him and do not, "she emphasized the words "make me regret doing this."
Murphy's anger ebbed as quickly as it had flared. He moved to Connor's bedside and took his brothers inert hand in his own, taking solace in its warmth and the pulse beating under his thumb.
Connor was alive and nothing else mattered.
He looked up to see the girl lingering outside the room, leaning against the desk in the hallway, reading a chart. He wanted to apologize to her, she'd been kind to him and he'd been a complete can of piss in return, but the words wouldn't seem to come out.
"That his?" he asked instead.
She nodded, not looking up.
"What's it say?"
"It's not great news, but it could have been much worse. The first bullet missed all his vital organs. He has some internal bleeding, a little fluid in his lungs, and a lot of damage that will just take time to heal. The second nicked the bone in his thigh, looks like there was some damage there already. They got both bullets out intact. His heart stopped for a minute and a half during the first surgery, they got it started again with the paddles. The rest of the surgery went without event."
"That the abridged version is it?"
She nodded then looked up and addressed the prone figure in the hospital bed, "You're a lucky man, Trauma-Fifty-Four."
"What the fuck's that supposed ta mean, Trauma-Fifty-Four?"
"That's what we call him since we don't know his name."
"His name is Connor."
"Connor." She said softly, testing the word.
"He's my brother." Murphy swallowed as a thought struck him "Fuck, We're in some serious shit now, the emergency rooms probably already called the police. Fuck."
She raised an eyebrow. "I wouldn't worry about that, the police won't be coming anytime soon."
He frowned at her "And why the fuck not, it's the law innit? What makes you so sure they won't be here? "
"Because," she smiled wryly and turned away, "Contacting the police in the event of a crime is my job too."
"Wait!" he called after her.
She stopped but didn't turn around, "I have work to do."
"Tell me yer name."
Murphy couldn't see her face, but he could tell she was smiling. "I have work to do, Murphy, but it was nice meeting you."