A/N: Hi! Okay, so this is just an idea I had a LONG time ago, and I finally wrote it. It takes place during "Simple Explanation" directly after Kutner dies and Thirteen and Foreman come back to the hospital. So yeah...
There's so much blood, that Cuddy thinks Thirteen must be the one who got shot and not Kutner.
Cuddy's already heard the details from Foreman about how they tried to bring him back, so she shouldn't be surprised. She replays what he said in her mind as she stares at Thirteen in shock.
Thirteen saw him first, ran into the room and started chest compressions. That explains the blood on her sleeves.
Mouth-to-mouth explains the bright red smear along her jawline and cheek.
Kneeling in the accumulated pool of blood around Kutner's body explains the stains on her pants, which cling to her legs.
It all has an explanation, and at the same time it's completely inexplicable.
Thirteen should never have had to kneel in that blood, doing CPR on a colleague who was already gone, because he shouldn't be gone. He should be sitting with Thirteen now, in the differential room, trying to figure out their latest case.
But today, nothing is as it should be.
Cuddy tries not to think about this as she suddenly remembers the clean pair of scrubs in her hands and her eyes really focus on the younger doctor down the hallway.
Foreman is standing with her, having already gotten cleaned up, and Cuddy can tell he's trying to coax her into doing the same. People are staring at her, soaked in blood, but she doesn't seem to register this. She's staring blankly at the wall across from her, pale and shaking ever so slightly.
Cuddy takes a deep breath, and with much effort makes her way over to the couple. Foreman looks up when she walks over, and bows his head, stepping aside. Thirteen, confused as to why he's stopped talking, looks up and comes face to face with Cuddy. Cuddy expects her to look away, but Thirteen surprises her by holding the gaze. The look in her eyes is so intense it's almost painful, and Cuddy finds herself breaking eye contact first.
"Dr. Hadley," she manages in her usual authoritative voice, "I think you had better come with me."
Thirteen glances at Foreman, but he won't look at her and she turns her eyes back to Cuddy. There is a moment's hesitation, but she finally nods. Cuddy is surprised again, she was expecting more of a fight, but Thirteen follows her obediently into the women's room, standing silently while Cuddy locks the door.
"Okay, let's get you cleaned up." Cuddy says, just to break the silence. She grabs a wad of paper towels from the dispenser and wets them in the sink, turning back to Thirteen. It only takes one look at the younger doctor for Cuddy to drop the paper towels and rush to her side.
Thirteen is staring at the mirror, one hand raised to the bloody smudge on her cheek. Her face is a mix of horror and revulsion, tears glistening in her already puffy eyes. And then Cuddy is at her side, grasping her shoulders, turning her to face away from the mirrors. There is a moment of shock before Thirteen drops her hand from her face, staring at it in disgust.
Cuddy sighs, her attempts to regain eye contact with the younger doctor proving futile. It occurs to her vaguely that Thirteen is taller than her, but in this moment she seems so sickeningly small; it's hard to imagine that she's even slightly taller than a child. Cuddy pushes the thought from her mind, determined to handle this situation professionally and not emotionally. Carefully, so not to get any blood on herself, she helps Thirteen out of her bloodied jacket and tosses it aside.
Once the jacket is off, Cuddy can clearly see that the blood has seeped through it, staining Thirteen's pale skinny arms. Taking Thirteen's elbows, Cuddy guides her arms away from her body. She retrieves the damp paper towels from the sink, and sets about wiping the blood from Thirteen. She starts with the smear on her face, and Thirteen cringes, but doesn't protest. It's when Cuddy goes to help her wipe the blood from her arms that they encounter a problem.
As soon as the paper towel hits her right arm, the previously unalert Thirteen jumps slightly, and jerks her arm away. Cuddy raises her eyebrows and Thirteen blushes, holding her arm back out. Now she watches every move Cuddy makes intently, though the sight of the blood makes her slightly ill. When her right arm has been successfully cleansed of blood, Cuddy reaches for her left. This is when Thirteen makes her move, grabbing the paper towels away from Cuddy, who looks up at her in confusion.
"I can do it." Thirteen says quietly, blinking back tears as she stares down at her blood stained arm. This is so wrong, so completely wrong. Her hand shaking, she begins to wipe her other arm with the paper towel. As she does this, she pulls it towards herself more, showing Cuddy only the back of her arm. Scars glare at her from the other side, straight and deliberate. They're so old they hardly even bother her anymore, but today is different. Today, someone else acheived what she has attempted so many times before.
She doesn't realize that she's stopped moving until Cuddy grabs her wrist, yanking Thirteen's arm towards her. By the time Thirteen can react its too late, and Cuddy is staring slack jawed at the slashes on her arm. All Thirteen can do is look away in shame, waiting for the verbal lashing shes about to get, but it doesn't come. Instead, she feels a pair of scrubs being pressed into her arms. Now it is her turn to look at Cuddy in confusion.
"Here, you should get changed."
Thirteen stares at the scrubs she's holding, trying to figure out why Cuddy is ignoring the scars. She looks up at the older woman and suddenly the answer is obvious,the blood is bothering her. She wants to talk to Thirteen, to ask about the scars and make sure that there's no risk of losing another employee, but her eyes can't help but stare at the blood. Silently, Thirteen turns and locks herself in a stall, leaning against the wall and sighing. She just wants the day to be over.
Thirteen sheds her shirt easily, trading it for the stiff green scrub top. This makes her feel a little bit better at least, she's always loved the feeling of wearing fresh scrubs. And then she looks down at her pants and freezes.
Starting at her knees and going down are two dark stains plastering her pants to her legs. Her stomach giving a sickening lurch, Thirteen reaches down and pinches the fabric, and immediately there is blood on her fingers. She cringes at the warm, damp feeling, but manages to pull her pant legs away from her flesh. Shutting her eyes, she rolls them up, to see just how much blood there really is. When she opens her eyes again, she's sure that shes going to vomit. Her legs are completely stained, bright red with blood. His blood. And suddenly, everything she has been trying to suppress comes back to the surface.
The way the blood was still warm, even though he wasn't.
The vacant look in his eyes, the pupils dialated.
The cold, foreign feeling of his lips when she had to do mouth-to-mouth.
Thirteen's breath comes in short, gasping bursts as sobs overcome her. Her legs are weak, and she sinks down to the ground, listening as Cuddy's heels click on the tile floor.
Thirteen doesn't answer. She shuts her eyes, but all she can see is Kutner, lying in a pool of his own blood.
"Dr. Hadley, are you alright?"
She sees Foreman, pumping Kutner's chest even though they both knew he was gone. The door to the stall begins to shake as Cuddy tries to get it open.
"Dr. Hadley, open the door!"
She sees the paramedics running in. She hears them pronouncing him dead at the scene.
"Open the door!"
She sees them taking him away. She feels Foreman pulling her from the scene.
She sees the one framed picture sitting on his dresser before she is pulled from the room. A picture of the two of them at the Christmas party. He looks so...happy. Thirteen can't help but think that it's unfair. She was the unhappy one, not him. She was the one he was always worrying about. She was the one he had raced to the hospital on the brink of death. She was the one who should have been dead by now. Not him.
Suddenly the door to the stall bursts open, and Thirteen looks up in surprise, her tears stopping for the moment. She wonders how Cuddy managed to get it open, but doesn't dwell on the thought. Cuddy stares down at her, and then she averts her eyes.
"I'll get you more paper towels for your legs."
Thirteen sniffles, nods, and watches Cuddy walk away. She takes a deep breath and wipes her eyes on her sleeve. Her eyes catch the scars again and she stares, thinking of how easy it would be to rip them open; thinking of how easy it would be to end it all. Or she could use pills, a knife, she could even hang herself. It would be so easy. Living is hard enough, but now faced with the idea of living without her best friend, Thirteen is sure that dying would be preferential. It occurs to her that she's crying again, but she doesn't try to stop; doesn't try to hide it.
And then Thirteen hears the faucet shut off, and the click of Cuddy's heels again, and manages to stand up. She accepts the paper towels from Cuddy and shuts the door once again, beginning to wipe her legs clean without hesitation. She wants it gone, she wants all of his blood off her body. She wants to put on the scrub pants and pull her hair into a ponytail and get back to work. She has to get back to work, she'll go crazy otherwise.
She emerges from the stall a moment later and Cuddy hands her a plastic bag for her clothes. Thirteen accepts it, thanking her quietly, and puts her clothes inside. Cuddy watches her do this, each movement slow and stressed like she's never done such a thing before. Cuddy opens her mouth, wanting to say something, wanting to comfort the younger doctor, but no words come out. And then Thirteen is standing before her,
"I'm going back to work, we have a patient." she says matter of factly, and Cuddy nods,
Thirteen is quiet for a moment, doesn't move, and then she turns and leaves. Cuddy watches after her, knowing she should have said something.
"It's too late now." she mumbles to herself. But she's not sure exactly what or who, its too late for. She doesn't know. She doesn't want to know.
Cuddy stands for a moment, silent, then leaves.