*peeks out from behind the shed* Are they gone? I never thought I'd ever be doing this, honestly. This story started out as a one-shot, nearly a year ago, for the Officer and a Gentleman contest. Yup, last summer. I wrote a bit, and set it aside, for about six months. Then, it decided to grow. With the encouragement of many of my wonderful friends, it blossomed into something I never expected. So, it is with my heart in my hand that I thank BellaMadonna, RobotMoose, and WickedWriterChick for their belief in me and gentle a**kicking to get on with it already. The beta extraordinaire for this ditty is the one and only BreathOfTwilight. Without you, sweet cheeks, this would never have seen the light of day.

Disclaimer: We all know who's makin' the money off these guys, and it certainly isn't me. Steph? Thanks for the opportunity to stretch. Onward . . .

Ticket to Love

Prologue

The shrill beeping of my pager going off jolts me from my restless slumber I've been sleeping in the on-call room, since I am, indeed, On-Call. The bunks are small with lumpy mattresses, and as a result, I have a kink in my neck that just doesn't want to go away. Still, it's better than no sleep at all. The beeper going off can mean only one thing. There must be an emergency coming into the trauma center requiring the whole emergency team. I'm in the middle of my ER rotation, and since it will give me more experience in the specialty I want to go into, I'm spending more time than normal at the hospital.

With no time for musings, I jump out of the rack and head for the trauma unit, double time, rubbing my face and shaking my head to try and erase the remaining bit of fog in my brain. Have to look and be sharp. This is no time to be groggy.

Upon arriving in the trauma unit, I see most of the rest of the team already assembled. Even the Head of Trauma Medicine is here. This must be really serious. A couple of my fellow residents arrive, close on my heels. Once we are all together, the Head begins briefing us on the trauma case on its way in.

"The patient was in a high speed automobile accident," he says grimly. "The medics are worried that they may not be able to stabilize the patient on the way, but felt it necessary to transport ASAP. I need a crash-cart manned and standing by. I don't want to be wasting any time if it's necessary.

"The medics have indicated there is significant trauma to the chest wall and it is unknown at this time whether there has been damage to the heart and/or lungs. The patient has also sustained head injuries and is floating in and out of consciousness.

"When the ambulance arrives, I want you all lined up awaiting orders. I'll be taking lead on this. Any questions?"

We all look at each other with wide eyes and somber expressions. I have no questions, in fact, it doesn't seem that anyone is questioning anything. It appears pretty cut-and-dry. We have a patient arriving momentarily that may or may not survive the night. It is up to us to make sure the patient has the best care possible to eliminate the latter possibility. So, the Head leads us to the ER doors to await our patient. The newest interns have taken up station with the crash-cart in the room that has been prepared.

Soon we hear the wailing of the siren as the ambulance rounds the corner on its way into The University of Washington Medical Center. It pulls up and within minutes all hell breaks loose. The Head is barking orders, and people are scrambling to follow them, me included. The patient is bagged. There is so much blood everywhere and the medic is running along side the gurney squeezing air into the patient's lungs, blocking me from getting a better view, as the patient is wheeled into the readied room.

As the Head is assessing the injuries and continuing to bark orders, I set about making sure all the tests are ordered and the nurses have all the instruments that might be needed, handy. There's really not a lot I can do, at this point. I keep my ears open, listening carefully, trying to get some idea of what is actually going on with the patient. I did notice that the patient appeared to be in a uniform, what was left of it anyway, perhaps a police uniform. I know that our team will do its best no matter who it is, but I know that we would all hate to be a part of the team that lost one of Seattle's Finest.

Slowly details are beginning to make their way out in an understandable manner. Evidently the patient received a severe blunt trauma to the chest from the steering wheel of the car, the airbag having failed to inflate. Broken ribs and possible punctured lungs could be a result of that. Not to mention trauma to the heart muscle itself. A chest tube is ordered to be inserted to drain fluids that are building up in the chest cavity, hampering breathing. While it doesn't sound like the lungs have been punctured, that doesn't mean there might not still be some significant damage. That's going to be a kind of wait-and-see situation. At least until all the other injuries are stabilized enough to get some x-rays or an MRI.

The Head orders the mobile x-ray unit brought in. When it arrives, all non-essential personnel leave the room. It's the first chance I get to really look at the patient. I've been hearing them referring to the patient as 'she'. So, our patient is female and possibly a police officer.

Turning around to look through the window, watching the procedures from afar, I finally see our patient.

Immediately, I bolt for the door. My heart clamps down painfully in my chest. My eyes are wide and must reflect the pain I'm feeling. The others hold me back, telling me I can't go in. I struggle against their arms and almost take a swing at one of them. What do they mean, I can't go in? How dare they tell me that? I have to get in there! I collapse to my knees; a pair of strong arms still encircling my waist. Gut-wrenching sobs spill from my mouth as I try to make them understand.

Please, our patient needs me. She's my lifeā€¦

She's my . . . my. . . my Bella!

e/n What? No! Not Bella! Not to worry, it will all work out. I'm not one that could possibly eliminate a character like that. So, how did we get to this point? Guess you'll have to read the chapters leading up to this. They'll be coming along, shortly. I'm going to be striving for a 'once a week' updating schedule, on Mondays, most likely. But, you know how RL is, there maybe times when it just doesn't happen like that. So don't hate me if it gets a little off once in a while. K?