Disclaimer: I don't own Mercy.
Summary: Chloe liked the idea of affecting someone, having them meet you, and take a bit of you with them when they left. Then she became a nurse.
Left Behind Pieces
When Chloe was ten years old, she decided she wanted to be a teacher. She had heard one of the newly hired teachers talking about "molding young minds" and it didn't occur to her that she, herself, was one of the young minds the newly graduated college student was talking about. She also didn't realize that the teacher had been using air quotes, mocking one of her old professors. The idea of it, affecting someone like that, having them meet you and take a bit of you with them when they left appealed to Chloe, even then.
For the next four years, she read literature, absorbed science books, and focused on her math equations, secretly plotting lesson plans in her head. It wasn't until the ninth grade when she took a biology class that a different path appeared to her, one that had her not just affecting people, but maybe, just maybe, changing them too.
Before she left for college, when Chloe told her father she was going into nursing, he leaned back in his recliner, raised his chin a half centimeter, and looked at her for a long moment. Then, his hardened face loosened for a moment and the corners of his mouth turned upward.
He smiled and told her that he was surprised, but pleased. She was a good student and would be a good nurse.
Though Chloe understood why he was surprised - she had never been the nerdy science type, reading medical journals under her Hello Kitty covers with a flashlight - she found her own satisfied look hardening into something different. Something challenging.
She would be a good nurse, and her mother, her brothers, and her father would know it.
Chloe made her way through school, dating occasionally and studying constantly. She left the same way she entered though, an innocent, naïve girl wearing a flowered shirt and a smile too bright for a workplace where dying was so normal that no one attended the funerals of the people they had failed.
The first time one of Chloe's patients died, she told no one. She followed procedure, filled out the paperwork, smiled as much as necessary at Veronica, Angel, and Sonia who somehow didn't realize, and then walked all the way home.
It was raining outside, and her Hello Kitty scrubs felt like blood prickling at her skin, even though they were the fresh pair she had changed into. She stumbled five blocks with the rain forcing her hair out of the crappy elastic band it was tied back with. (She had worn her hair down for once, but had tied it back in a fit of discomfort after it had happened.)
She walked mindlessly over a grate in the street and winced slightly as the subway that she was supposed to be on rumbled the sidewalk.
She wished she could wish she was a teacher now, but she couldn't.
That night, when Chloe could not sleep, she imagined the sixth grade teacher across the city, dreaming about calling her student out of class to tell her that her mother needed to take her to the hospital.
The teacher wouldn't tell the girl that her father was dead. She hadn't known at the time, and neither had the mother. And a half hour that, when the mother had collapsed in hysterics in the waiting room upon hearing the news, and the girl had just screamed to be told what was wrong, Chloe had told the girl herself.
Her name was Melody. Like a song.
Chloe was halfway to the funeral home when she turned around. The family wouldn't want her there, not with the blood that she could still feel on her hands.
Veronica and Sonia never realized that Chloe's 'first' death was actually her second, but Angel, well, he looked at her for a too long moment. He glanced from her face - less grief-filled than her first should've been - to the nurses next to her.
He didn't say a word; Chloe realized he was her friend.
Chloe spent hours trying to save a patient. When he died and she asked why the doctor wasn't going to inform the family, she was told the waiting room was empty. There was no next of kin.
No one really cared.
A boy died today. David.
Chloe kept a diary of names, all bleeding together in sloppy writing that would have her old teachers grimacing. Some of them were her patients, some of them were Veronica's, Sonia's, Angel's, or just random deaths she heard about in the cafeteria.
It felt like someone should remember the deaths.
There were days when Chloe smiled, calling up family and old friends and laughing and living. She had friends at the hospital, and they taught her to dress like she wasn't ten years old, and she remembered why she wanted to be a nurse.
Chloe saved a girl's life. It wasn't the doctors or the science or luck - it was her. When she walked out to the nurse's station, Veronica looked at her, gave her a nod of respect, and then made some sexual-harassment-suit-worthy remark about Dr. Sands.
That night, somehow, the girl's name found her way into the diary of names. Janie.
It was her first time in the E.R. when a psychotic patient lost it and started wailing on a guy in the waiting room.
"Ten minutes for security."
The man groaned in pain, and somehow Chloe found herself running into the room, jumping on the man's back. She was taken out of the equation immediately, shoved to the ground, absolutely no help whatsoever. Angel dragged her out; security came in.
Later, when she groaned at the bruises on her body, it occurred to her that she hadn't just run in just to help the man on the floor. Both of the men had been her patients, in a way, and she made sure they were both okay before leaving the hospital that night.
Patients all blended into each other for other nurses, but not Chloe. She knew each of them - if not by name but then by story. She knew the man who had haunted the hospital after his wife had died (and he, in Chloe's mind, was as much her patient as his wife had been).
She knew the cancerous patients who died. She knew the elderly who left for nursing homes or had home nurses, like the woman Sonia worked for. She knew the little child and the fatherless girl and the frozen boy and the sick college kids.
But slowly, at some point, she began to think about more than just the patients. She focused on dressing sexy and meeting guys at Delany's. She laughed at the gossip and rolled her eyes at Veronica's love triangles. Chloe's diary became a record of gossip, nostalgic moments, and memories in the making.
And slowly, that scrawl of names became a multi-colored bled together scrawl of the names of the living and the dead, the challenges met and conquered or failed, and the people whom in the end met her, took a bit of her with them, and left behind with her their own pieces.
Author's Note: I'm not sure why I decided to write this fic, since Mercy is a fairly undeveloped fandom, and it's not one I've ever read. Somehow though, I had this image of Chloe as a wannabe teacher in my brain, and from there, a story was written, at two, three in the morning. I've always liked Chloe's character, because to me she seems to be treated as comic relief, and yet, she also seems to feel things very deeply. Mercy fans should note that I've made up quite a lot of this story. Aside from the patient in the ER and a few other short mentions, these patients aren't real, and they don't coincide with events on the show. Call it laziness, bad memory, or artistic license, whatever you'd like.
I'd love to know what you think of this story, so please review.