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-Part 3-


Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing more difficult than understanding him.

~ Fyodor Dostoevsky ~

As the elevator descends toward the ER, Robin stands awkwardly—leaning heavily against the side wall; hugging herself with both arms in a desperate attempt to keep herself from crumpling to the floor in a jaded, sobbing heap; her eyes lifeless, red-rimmed, and staring at nothing except the cold metal doors in front of her.

She doesn't remember leaving the angiography suite, let alone boarding the elevator itself. All she can recall is hearing Romano say he'd be down in a few minutes to speak to the police, gladly taking that responsibility off of Robin's shoulders.

And so here she stands. The world has taken on a lackluster appearance. No life. No reason. No normalcy. No hope. The murky, shadowy haze that once plagued her as a teenager and young adult has now re-emerged with a vengeance: merciless, unrelenting, and all-consuming.


She can't be sure when she heard this warbled, distorted voice before. Fourteen years ago? Fifteen? She thought it to be the result of overwhelming stress in college as she prepared to move on to medical school—perhaps her conscience trying to tell her to slow things down, not let life slip through her fingers... To live in the moment.

You know who I am...

It's been too long. If she were ill, it wouldn't lay dormant for over a decade-and-a-half and then suddenly emerge with no warning. She closes her eyes and shakes her head in hopes that she'll stave off a much-unwanted decay in her mental health.

The elevator doors slide open, and much to her dismay, Robin knows she has to move. She almost can't make herself. Every muscle in her lean frame is stressed to the point of exhaustion. With her left arm still snaked around her mid-section, she uses her right to push herself from the wall as her feet begin to miraculously walk her out of the smothering, confining trap.

Curtain 3 greets her, but now it is infinitely different than before.

Yellow police tape crossing the doors...

Blockades keeping out everyone other than law enforcement...

Detectives surveying, taking notes and pictures, conversing with officers...

Cops. Everywhere.

A voice.

"Robin, what's going on upstairs?"

It sounds like Weaver. She looks away from the horrors of the room, seeking out the source.

She's standing in the middle of the main hallway now, not knowing how she got there.

Weaver's concerned gaze is met with one of utter confusion and despair. She's seen Robin depressed before, but her face... So many emotions and thoughts are swirling in the young doctor's mind, but the moody redhead, for the first time, can't put her finger on what it is she's actually peering into: anger? Disarray? Hopelessness? Regret? Forgiveness? Self-destructive sorrow? ...She doesn't have an answer.

Taking a breath, she finds her words once again as she puts an arm around her colleague and moves her into the small walkway between Curtain 1 and the nurses' station. "I don't know if anyone informed you while you were upstairs...but Sobriki was involved in an MVA a few hours ago."

Hearing the mere mention of the man's name sends a chill down Robin's spine, and she seems to find her ground—her face changing.

"His only major injuries were a collapsed lung and a few lacs, but other than that, he's...medically stable. We had to give him Haldol... He was pretty...combative..." Weaver's voice trails off, not know what else to say to her friend.

"So..." Robin starts, taking her pointed gaze away from the woman for a moment and clearing her throat quietly, "...he's alive." It's more of a feeble statement than a question.

"Yeah," Weaver answers, looking down at her shoes. She misses Robin's eyes wandering over to the trauma rooms and the hallway leading to the suture room, searching for a glimpse of him.

"Where is he?"

Weaver looks back to her sharply, and then...she sees it. Uncontrollable rage. Robin's eyes almost quiver with it. Her brows slightly furrowed, her jaw set. "What?" she asks. "You don't need t—"

"Kerry, where is he?" the brunette fumes, not giving a damn how loud her voice is or who hears.

Before she can stop herself, Kerry sounds defeated as she tells, "Exam 2."

As Weaver begins to argue against it, Robin moves quickly away toward the room with a renewed vigor in her step. Reaching the doors, she sees a woman, whom she assumes is Paul's wife, walking up to him and kissing his head. While she feels sorry for her and her baby that they're being put through this, at the same time, she feels a tinge of hatred. How could she not see it? How could she not know?

Without thinking, she decides to barge in uninvited.

Determined hazel eyes meet paranoid brown.

She can feel all eyes on her as she stands awkwardly behind Mark, having interrupted Dr. DaRadd in the midst of his evaluation. She wants nothing more than for someone to continue.

The agonizing pressure lifts momentarily as Paul's wife, Samantha, breaks the silence and loses the battle with her tears. "Paul," she asks, nearly whispering, "what happened?"

"They took my clothes," the disturbed man squeaks out, "and they took my shoes..."

"Who took your clothes, Paul?" DeRadd calmly questions.

Robin watches as Paul's demeanor gains a hint of irritation. His eyes meet hers. "Them." That single word is evidence enough for Robin, but the psychiatrist pushes on.

"Who's 'them?'"

Paul looks back to his struggling wife, and suddenly appears to be that of a scared child—looking for someone...anyone...to comfort him. "They had...a-a blue cake."

Mark and Robin inwardly cringe at his observation. Robin remembers Lucy briefly mentioning her discovery of their patient as they passed in the hallway earlier in the evening—shortly before her brief spat with Carter.

She should have stopped this...should have seen the red flags... The blaring sirens of warning...

DeRadd drives on. "Is that where you got the knife?"

"They were gonna open me..." Paul whimpers.

"Paul," DeRadd insists, "where did you get the knife?"

"They-they were gonna take my organs..." the man tells his wife, on the verge of tears.

"What organs?"

"My internal organs!" Paul turns his head to the three doctors—clearly angry now.

The room falls quiet.

Robin's brows knot, and her own anger grows.

"Don't you understand?" Paul's voice drips with desperation and anger. "I-I had to protect them!" He raises his voice as he squirms against the restraints, "Don't try to tell me I don't know, because I know!" The troubled man now shows another side of himself: a side filled with contempt and madness. "They were trying to take them, and I had—I had to stop them!"

Something deep inside her, something intrinsic, has shifted. Watching with rising emotions, Robin suddenly speaks—her voice holding a warning edge, "Then why didn't you wait for me?"

All eyes are on her. Some heads turn and stop on a dime, and she knows that she's touched a nerve.

Dr. DeRadd knows what she's getting at. "Dr. Shepherd—"

"No," she forces, with a piercing stare at the trapped young man, "why didn't you finish the job, Paul? ...Hm?" She sees the emotions swirling behind his eyes: confusion, fear, anger, desperation...among other things.

"Robin, stop," Mark stands and faces her, having finished his sutures.

"No," she repeats herself, stepping to the side as Mark has obstructed her view. Her eyes never wander from the ill man, because she wants to have his full, unwavering attention. Her mouth hangs agape as she searches for words, and she starts shaking her head slightly—unable to control her building emotions. "You don't have any idea...what you've done, do you?" she asks, almost more of a statement than an actual question. Her mouth finally closes and her jaw sets, feeling seven kinds of hate towards this sick man. Burning tears begin to rise—picturing John and Lucy, slathered in blood...broken...helpless... "If I ever...see your face again...in this hospital..." Robin says calmly, but effectively, "I won't take pity on you—"

"Okay, that's enough," Mark tells her, raising his voice to match hers.

And like a flash of lightning, her mood changes from somewhat resigned to just this side of belligerent.

"—just like you when you butchered my friends. My family!" She's started talking with her hands now, pointing at him with emphasis. Her voice quivers with turbulent rage as she pushes Mark's hand away, trying to lead her out of the room. "You killed one of my friends, you son of a bitch! And I swear to God...if I ever see you again...I'll kill you!"

"Dr. Shepherd, you cannot threaten a patient's life! Now, come with me!" Mark shouts over her and drags her to the door.

She continues to fight against the taller man, still holding Paul's gaze—her voice and eyes brimming with conviction. "That's not a threat! THAT is a PROMISE!"

As Robin continues to struggle with Mark, Dr. DeRadd steps aside, asking, "Is he ready?"

Mark, halfway out the door, tells him with a tone of disdain, "Yeah. You wanna take him upstairs?" He sees his colleague nod and leaves him to whatever he must do next. As the door closes behind him, Robin makes one last-ditch effort to gain the upper hand—wrenching her arm out of his hands with one swift swing, while a murderous hostility emanates from her most essential self.

"Get your FUCKIN' hands OFF me!" she screams, her voice sounding strangled and hoarse. Her voice is not her own.

Mark takes a strong hold of Robin's shoulders, holds her out at arm's length, and stoops down to her line of vision. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he asks, his expression and voice filled with concern.

And suddenly...nothing...

He sees the younger woman, looking somewhere past exhaustion, transform before his very eyes: her eyes go from daggers, to concerned, to confused in only a matter of milliseconds. He sees the horror that she is unable to control. The anger that she won't suppress. The tears that she doesn't want to repress. Her once-bright hazel orbs appear dead and dark, not being able to look at anyone or anything in particular—darting about incessantly. Her brows arch upward as she seems to want to convey...something. Anything. Some semblance that she's still in her own mind...

Maybe not her right mind...but her mind, nonetheless.

Mark watches her hazel pools slide over toward the nurses' station, and he follows.

Both see Dr. Weaver, unsteady on her feet, as she sits down at the station desk. She places her crutch against the desk...and simply sits and stares. Her face pale, her eyes wide, her heart broken.

Dr. Romano stands in the hallway talking with one hand, while the other rests on his hip—informing one of the many police officers about the past few hours' events.

The four doctors' eyes meet almost immediately...but only for a moment. Romano turns his attention back to the cop; Weaver sits there with a sad, far-away look in her eyes; Greene looks back to Shepherd, who's fragile stare takes him by surprise—tears running freely now down her cheeks and soaking into her green scrub top.

Mark's features soften, the questions passing silently between them:

What happened upstairs? Are Lucy and Carter okay? Why are you acting this way? ...Are you okay?

How will Carter handle this? How will I handle this? How will we all handle this? Why didn't I stay on top of everything? Why couldn't it have been just me instead of John and Lucy? Why did this happen to them...of all people? How are people going to cope with this holiday every year from now on? Will we cease to celebrate it...to acknowledge it at all? Will some of us close ourselves off every February? Will we put up barriers around our heart? Push people away? Can we move on? Can we learn from this? Can we recover? ...Can I ever accept this? ...Can I cope? ...Can I learn from this? ...Can I recover? ...Can I move on?

...Will I ever be okay?

"Robin..." Mark says with soft urgency, his eyes trained on his friend's unsettling face. "What happened?"

The young attending seems taken aback...not sure she understands the question. Her jaw muscles rippling as she fights her impending breakdown. She swallows hard and opens her mouth...but she can't speak. Her words freeze in her throat. There's no air. She feels confined... hears what seems to be the beginning of a sort of painful, strangled groan that sounds nothing like her erupt from deep inside her chest. It takes a great deal of energy just to simply say her name...

"Lu-Lucy..." Robin lets out a choked sob, releasing the breath she didn't realize she was holding—just barely bringing the name to life with an air of finality. The air rips from her lungs as she slowly begins to weep, violently clutching and pulling at her crimson-stained scrub top. Her chest is aching and throbbing and burning so painfully she can hardly see straight.

Mark is forced to let her go and watch her slowly walk toward the admit desk. The sounds of her heart-wrenching cries keep him chained to his spot, knowing that what has happened has left his dear friend shattered. The physical expression of her unraveling is the worst. He and the rest of the ER has seen her cry before, but for others, never for herself. On this night, he watches as she cries for everyone...especially John. Everyone who was lucky enough to have been touched...changed in the slightest way by knowing Lucy Knight. There is simply nothing he can do now except watch her from afar. His own despair over the night's events prevents him from being able to comfort anyone at the moment. He must find his own way.

Robin reaches the desk with one hand, again, wrapped protectively around herself, while the other grabs hold of the edge. She doubles over, almost as if she's about to vomit. Is it pain? Exhaustion? Or is it something entirely different? Or a culmination of everything? Even Robin herself isn't sure at this point. She seems to wilt and lean against the desk for stability; and finally, after stuffing all of her despair over the past hours deep within her...

...She surrenders—sinking down against the desk, pulling her knees up to her chest, and crying so intensely that it's visceral...gut-wrenching...all-consuming.

Chuny hesitantly moves to her and cradles the trembling woman as best she can—trying to calm her, quiet her, soothe her. As she continues to rub soothing circles on her back, she can barely hear over Robin's crushing sobs, the mumbling of two disturbing words...over and over again...

"Lucy's dead..."

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.

~ Joseph Conrad ~

I wept — laughter died that day...

I wept, pouring out the tears behind my veils.

~ Electra (Aeschylus – Agamemnon; lns. 435-436)

Only two more chapters to go! Those of you who like my story, try checkin' out my other ones-especially "Reckoning" and "End." I'd love it if you did! Till next time, everyone! 3