"Post-Show Chat" by Tris

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR NEW BLOOD! I FORGET WHICH CHAPTERS. And, of course, all characters and such belong to Atlus not me.

Trauma Center: New Blood. "Your basic premise is unethical," Val said. "Explain yourself," Leo countered. "What ethics are you referring to and how are we violating them?" Rated T for brief language and frank mention of anatomy, in medical context. Oneshot, complete, bonus coming soon.

A/N: I am really not a Bello fan, but I don't believe in bashing any characters, except just as a joke sometimes. He annoys the heck out of me, but you have to wonder why he started Miracle Surgery. Why not just become a regular Dr.? There has to be some heart in him, although I do not sugarcoat his aggravatingly abrasive personality. And finally, I pretty much wrote this because Irene annoyed me when she made such a general vague statement about the show being unethical. Come on, let's get some details!! Frankly most of this story is Leo talking. I didn't write this to get fluff out of my system; I just wanted to listen to his story. But if you gotta have fluff…see the bonus! Just for fluff lovers. Up soon I promises. Final, final note: No I am not going to scrap my Robert story!! I just need to hone the emotional tone and dialogue and flip some things around, then the second and final chapter will be put up.

Dr. Leonardo Bello leaned back in a folding chair, sweat soaking his ginger hair. He pulled the amethyst polar fleece blanket tighter around his shoulders and rubbed his head, still trying to shake the effects of the anesthetic. He'd recently come to from the sedative Markus had injected him with to give his overworked body a break. And now Markus was looking at him with troubled eyes.

"Leo…" he hesitated. "Tonight, Miracle Surgery—"

"Not now, Markus!" Val said sharply.

"The show has been canceled." Markus went on doggedly. "Would you consider working for Caduceus? Dr. Tsuji tells us your skills are exceptional."

"Kenae works for Caduceus?" Dr. Bello raised his eyebrows. "Now there is a great surgeon. I never saw such determination in another human being…but no, if Miracle Surgery is canceled, I must resign as a surgeon. I've worked for it so long…I will never operate again."

"What have we done?" Elena whispered, putting her hand to her mouth.

"Dr. Bello, I strongly advise that you take some time to consider this," Val counseled. "Markus and I have worked many places. Being uprooted from old friends and settings and adjusting to new is hard, but it can be done. Please don't toss aside all your hard work and potential just because one option is no longer available."

"You…don't understand. Miracle Surgery stands for everything I believe in. Since before Med School I've wanted to change the medical system. I've wanted to make medical care available to everyone. This was my first modest step—"

"Modest, psh..."

"--and now it's crushed. I don't understand how you can call yourselves doctors when you oppose helping sick people!"

"Now wait—wait a minute," Markus said, cynical grin evaporating. "The reason Miracle Surgery was shut down—"

"Don't speak passively, Doctor. YOU shut Miracle Surgery down, it didn't GET shut down. And why? You didn't give us a chance—didn't explain why you disagreed with the show. Just like that," he snapped his fingers, "you turned off our dreams. You are the most extreme example of intolerance I have ever seen! We weren't helping people the way you wanted, so you squished the life out of us! We could have changed. We were going to change!"

"How is that possible?" Val questioned. "Your basic premise is unethical."

"Explain yourself. What ethics are you referring to and how are we violating them? As medical professionals, surely we all agree with the phrase "Primum non nocere," that is, first do no harm. Now I would like to know: how is it harmful to provide free medical care to those who desperately need it? Likewise, I see only good coming from letting others witness the miracle of operation. So many will be inspired to save lives, not to mention they'll gain knowledge of the human body and the potholes in our medical system. Show me the harm!"

"Uh…" Val was momentarily stunned, but she rebounded quickly. "People on your show don't have any privacy. What if they have a serious medical condition they don't want the whole world to know about? And what about the actual physical exposure?"

He shook his head with a condescending sigh that bordered on amusement. "Didn't you think to visit our website before you came on the show?"

"No one told us you had a---"

"I checked it out," Markus put in. "What's your point?"

"You must have missed page three of the About Miracle Surgery link. There I personally explained the answer to your questions, Dr. Blaylock. You see, while it's true that a prerequisite for receiving medical care from us is being featured on our show, we're not heartless by any means. If someone has a condition they wish to remain secret, or they become paralyzed at the thought of being on TV, we will operate in a private O.R. away from any cameras."

"But what if— "

"Excuse me, Nurse Salazar, I am not finished," Leo raised a tawny eyebrow at her. "If you will allow me to continue… the patient who chooses this route appears directly before and two weeks after the surgery, telling as much as they feel comfortable. And, appearing in silhouette is an option. May I state clearly that during the private operations we never fail to arrange to have a top-quality surgeon and nurse team observe. In case of lawsuits, they are free to say anything. This team may not be known to you but they are quite prestigious. Ah yes, Dr., in answer to your second question: even if the patient is a comfortable laid-back type, we have limits as to what we will show. A more…shall we say 'delicate'…operation is always performed in seclusion. I actually carry this around with me—" he fished a folded, worn paper out of his pocket and handed it to Val.

She unfolded it and began reading. "'Male patients—50 percent thigh and down; waist and up. Female patients—shoulders to hands; feet to five inches above kneecap; head to collarbone; pelvis to two inches below breasts.'"

"And does your show adhere strictly to this?" Elena asked coolly.

Leo knifed her with his eyes. "We follow the limits as much as possible, but I sense you're asking if we've ever gone more than a millimeter out of the parameters. The answer to that is yes, but if you have letters of complaint, please! Show them. I await eagerly."

"No, we don't have any letters of complaint," Markus said wearily. "But Dr. Bello, the whole reason we had to appear on your show so quickly, with little time to prepare, was because—"

"You bashed Caduceus without proper information!" Val snapped with an explosion of her fiery spirit. "You assumed we wasted taxpayers' money without doing research to discover how we really spend it. 95 percent of our budget is spent on our core priorities, and we are making great strides in medical advancement. You didn't even notice that the last operation we performed here involved synthetic arteries. We couldn't have saved Meredith without them!"

"Oh, I see," Leo said with wry bitterness. "You're snuffing us out because we put a fly in your ointment. Well, I'll remember that. Next time someone badmouths me, I'll crush them to dust!" He crossed his arms fiercely.

"That's not true," Markus said patiently. "We—and that includes the Director of Caduceus—thought the show was unethical even before you tarnished our reputation. Val pointed out the privacy issue, but face it, being influenced by your audiences' reactions is unavoidable."

"Please elaborate, Dr. Vaughn," Leo said with mock interest and a smirk.

"How can you stay focused when you know you're being watched carefully by millions of people?" Markus began with a sigh.

"Dr. Vaughn, you seem to be suggesting that physicians have no willpower or backbone! Really, if I know what's best for the patient, why wouldn't I do it? I appreciate the support of the audience, but for the most part they're laymen. Now if they wanted me to remove a tumor X way and I say it should be Y way, who am I going to listen to, grocery baggers and accountants—noble jobs, incidentally—or my own mind which has been trained at the best medical school available? Moreover, if I actually listened to what they wanted and the patient died, how would that help anyone? No, I am not swayed by anything." He held up a palm to emphasize his point.

"And you really are not distracted by this…" Val sniffed like a disgusted cat in the direction of Guy Davidson, who was writing out an autograph to the gaffer. "…pompous moron of an announcer?"

"Val, please," Markus muttered.

Leo eyed her sharply. "David is silly and vain and deserves a medal for his egotism, but he's a great man nonetheless. Why do you think he works here? He could get any reporting job he wanted. He is one of the few that truly shares my vision; we go out for a beer sometimes to talk shop, how to improve the show, and so on. He always gets excited when we talk about the success of the show. Did you know—probably not, you barely read our website—people are coming to us all the time and begging to be let in. You fool, we have a waiting list two hundred patients long! This just proves how desperate people are for medical care. Where are they going to go now? Will you treat them for free?"

"No," Val sighed. "We couldn't handle all the patients."

"Exactly," Leo said, stabbing his index finger into his pant leg for emphasis. "You focus on research, while we focus on the actual patients. You've hamstrung yourself, I believe. You're dumping patients into the street that now have nowhere to go. Many of them cannot work due to their illness, so they won't be able to afford a roof over their heads. I imagine you'll have people banging on your door, people that we would have welcomed with open arms. But you'll turn them away to die in the gutter." He gave the last four words a sick, gleeful tone.

"That's garbage!" Markus yelled, his face turning the color of a bruised plum.

"Oh really? So you actually are going to start treating the poor full time? I wonder what will happen to your research. Fade away, most probably."

"Now hold it," Val said firmly. "You say this show was a step toward getting people everywhere better medical care, but how would that have happened? You say your waiting list was huge; it would have just kept growing and growing. What would have been your next step to branch out?"

"Well, since you asked I'll tell you. The Miracle Surgery staff had our annual meeting last month and brainstormed plans for the future. One of the key ideas that came up was to start increasing audience involvement. We would do this through televised fund raisers. To ensure the donors felt their money was being put to good use, we would keep careful financial records and send reports to the donors, personalized newsletters if you will, telling of how their money saved lives. Any photogenic patients would be welcome to send their pictures for inclusion, or write short autobiographies. With the donor money we were also going to hire new staff and "branch out" like you said, to a second studio. Although the show was scheduled to continue, we were going to start using pseudonyms on the show and in the newsletters and begin phasing out all the glitter."

"Then why did you have it in the first pla—"

"Miracle Surgery as it is now and as you so rashly assumed would stay forever, was just the first stage of the life of a young organism. Once we had people interested, it was going to take on a second form, then a third. But you didn't let us explain. You had no imagination and no thoughts at all for the future. You have dealt a death blow tonight, doctors. A deathblow to the potential of a unique and promising grassroots medical community. I would not like to be in your shoes right now."

"Val, Elena, let's leave," Markus muttered. The three slipped out of the studio, trying not to slink, and headed for their car in a slightly dazed state.

They were halfway across the sun-soaked parking lot when Val dared to speak. "Did we really do the right thing?"

No one answered.