Alright, so this fic was intented to be and to stay as a one-shot. It may change, but, I really believe it's better as a one-shot. I'm a real fan of Trauma Center, should it be second opinion or new blood. I've recently realized that there weren't many fics with Markus and Valerie and I was really sad, since they're my favorite pairings. So here you go. This is like most of my fics, a drama, romance, and a bit of angster fic. It's not very long, but I put my heart into it. Hope you have fun reading this.
Just to mention it now, I'm a French writer first. My English isn't too bad, but its still could be better. I have no beta readers, so, you're warned. There may be mistakes.
Radiklement speaking. Last words: Have fun and a good day!
You can't begin to imagine what it means to be a doctor. You held your patients' lives in your hands. And if you loosen your grasp, they're gone. You've already faced death? Well, be ready, since you'll never get used to it. Each time will be like the first. You can save as many as you want. You won't save 'em all. It's not a battle where you fight against real enemies. Killing someone won't save anything. You will end up losing sometimes. You can look at blood, broken limbs and corpses. Can you watch the livings turning into corpses before you?
"Beep… Beep.….Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeep."
He was shaking. He couldn't stop his hands from shaking. The body on the table was getting cold now. It was still warm, but the life already flew away. Markus couldn't really understand what had happened. This little girl was hit by a car on her way to school. Her ribs were broken and had perforated one of her lungs. She was pale as death. Well, of course, he'd just lost her on the operation table. He felt numb. Empty. He had used the healing touch. He did everything that he could!
Sometimes, everything is just not enough…
"Doctor Vaughn, doctor Vaughn, I…"
Elena didn't know what to say. She was scared. It was the first time that she saw Markus failed. The first time she witnessed the death of someone.
"Do you have her file, Elena," he asked with a low voice.
She looked at him before gulping hard, realizing what they were supposed to do now. Their patient was only ten years old. She looked a bit like Valerie and Markus couldn't help but wonder where Valerie was now, when he really needed her by his side. She had called in late today and he had to undergo the operation alone. He had always been able to before, but after this mess, he couldn't believe he decided to do such an urgent operation alone. But then again, there had been no ways to stabilize the young girl state. It was an emergency and he was the only surgeon ready to operate at the time she arrived. He had treated her external wounds in a few seconds, opened her up and was about to save her when suddenly… Cardiac arrest.
"Patient name, Kiera Johnson," he began.
He had already lost some patients before. He had trained hard to develop his healing touch, to be sure to never live something that much painful again. While he said the little girl's name, he felt his throat going dry. His voice was escaping from his lips with pain. He wanted to get back to work, to use every tools they could gave him to get this poor Kiera back to life. She was scared beyond words when they had put her to sleep. Her mom was crying in the waiting room. Markus felt horrible. Had he made a mistake? Had he cut too much, had he been too long or too fast? He had massaged her heart, he had almost got her back, but then, something changed in the air. Her heart turned solid as stone. Her blood stopped running. It had happen suddenly, like something he had heard of before. Instant death. When the life runs away, since the body's too weak to support it anymore…
"Hour of death, 2.30 pm."
His voice was shaky and he managed to see tears in Elena's eyes. It was the first time since they began to work as a team that he'd lost one of his patients.
"We should close her up now, before telling her family," the nurse said.
He sighed before to agree with her. He couldn't stop to wonder over what could have gone wrong during that failed operation. Did he make a mistake? Had he killed the girl instead of saving her? Did I trust my skills too much? I wasn't overconfident when I started; I was stressed, as always. But I did focus. So why…?
When her heartbeat was long gone, he was still trying to get back a pulse and it was Elena's cries that stopped him. It was the nurse that had to tell him to stop, even now, as he took the needle, she stopped him once more, seeing how he was shaking.
"We should ask someone else to do it, you're under shock, doctor."
"It's the least I should do after butchering her like that," he replied.
Now, anger ringed in his voice. And a bit of despair. He was scared to face the consequences. He knew he would have to tell the family. And god knew just how hard it was to announce such news. He steadied his hand and his voice.
"It's going to be alright Elena. I'll do just fine. Just assist me till I'm done."
Where's Val? If she had been here, would things have turned out different? If she was here, I wouldn't… What's wrong, what did I made that was wrong? he thought.
He looked at the petite body on the table. There was a malformation in her heart, an unknown fact to add in her file that proved lethal in the end. Well, he wasn't entirely sure if he was just trying to rationalize or to find himself some excuses. Maybe it was instant death. Maybe he did a mistake. After all, he was just human. Even with his healing touch, he was still fallible.
He slowly closed up Kiera, trying not to think of what her life was before and of what her life could have been. Dying so young, it really wasn't fair. When he was done, he threw away his surgical gloves and went to wash his hands, without a look for Elena. The poor nurse had warned the other doctors and now, she was getting the dead girl back in her hospital gown to make her look decent and at peace.
Markus swapped his bloodied surgeon's gown for a clean one, trying to relax even though he was still shocked by his fail. He spent twenty minutes washing his hands. Far too much time, even for a surgeon. The color of blood was imprinted in his eyes and he seemed to be unable to make it come off his hands. He felt miserable. He wanted to hide. But he had to forget his fears as a human and his pride as a professional. He had to complete his job. And now, he had to admit his fault. He came back in the O.R. , a bit paler than before, maybe. His patient was now lying in a bed, all the blood gone and looked almost as if she was sleeping. But her chest wasn't rising. Her brown skin was turning all shades of grey. She was growing cold. And Markus knew just too well.
Another nurse walked in. She wore a sad expression on her face and no one could blame her.
"The family is waiting in the corridor. Doctor Vaughn, you feel alright to see them?"
Markus really didn't feel right, but who would in the same situation. His body was all tensed in an attempt not to shake anymore. He simply nodded and walked out, to be met by the expecting eyes of the Johnson family. In one glimpse, he caught the mother's swallowed sobs, the sister's eyes red from crying too much, the brother's trembling body and the father, standing tall behind them, even if he was surely going to break apart himself.
They rushed to him and the poor surgeon felt like a prey in a cage. He kept his cool. For now, he had to be strong. He was a doctor. Doctor had to go through this all the time. But it was so very very hard. If only Val was here now. He would have felt stronger. He would have felt the urge to show that he was unmoved; the urge to help her even if it was hard, even if he was shocked herself.
"You are Kiera Johnson's family?"
He didn't have to ask, but still, he had to make sure. You can't go announcing someone's death to the wrong relatives.
"I'm the doctor Vaughn. I was the one operating her."
He knew it sounded bad. Almost as if he said that he was the one who've killed her. But the mother was now looking at him with bright eyes, filled with hope. He hated himself. He gave her the time to talk.
"Will she be alright?"
He gave her the time to attack him, it was just the same. He gave them hope for one minute, as he hesitated. At this very moment, he really hated himself.
"Madam Johnson, I'm really sorry to say that she didn't make it."
He could have stopped there, but the woman almost immediately made her way through her remaining children and grabbed him by the collar, with the strength only an angry and terrified mother could show.
"This can't be right, doctor Vaughn. My little Kiera haven't ever done anything bad. She was just going back to school after dinner when she was hit by that car! She can't be…"
"The operation was long and dangerous, there were complications and…"
His voice died in his throat as the husband of the poor woman forced his wife to release Markus' collar. The other daughter of the Johnson was now gripping on her father's pants.
"Was does that mean daddy? What happen to Kiera?"
The child was four years old, at best. Markus' heart sank. He couldn't run away now, he had to stay just some more time, to carry out the stupid administrative crap.
At that very moment, steps resounded behind them and a woman's voice echoed through the corridor.
"What's happening here?"
Markus recognized Valerie Blaylock, but he hadn't the time to turn around and smile at her. He didn't even have the heart to smile right now.
"This man, he killed my daughter!" the father accused, talking for the first time.
The surgeon took a step backward and Valerie's eyes widened with surprise. Since she knew Markus, she'd never heard of him failing an operation or losing a patient. And the situation was looking bad. If this turned into a commotion, her partner and best friend could get in real shit with the hospital. She was sad to understand that he'd lose one of his patients. But she knew how hard this must feel like for him.
"It really, really is hard to be face with the death of someone dear and near to us. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter died, but I'm sure that Doctor Vaughn did whatever he could to…"
"Maybe, but that wasn't enough! I thought he was one of the best surgeons out there and…!"
"Mommy, what's happening to Kiera, where is she?"
"Oh dear god, why my poor little girl…?"
Valerie got next to Markus and gave him a concerned look. She didn't understand what was happening, but she saw immediately that he wasn't ok. He seemed about to collapse from exhaustion. You used the healing touch, and even with that, it failed? she thought.
"Please, listen; there is always an inspection over every operation that fails, so we will soon know what really happened. You're stressed out, it's pretty understandable, but you can't take it out on doctor Vaughn."
"Val," he tried to object.
She ignored him, because he really needed to relax and he wouldn't get a chance to by confronting those mourning people.
"It's a real shock, but you should sit down and get some rest for now. If you would come with me, I'll show you to a place where you can take it in."
"Take it in," the father repeated; doubting things could be so simple.
Luck or not, he seemed to lose his fiery and turned back to his wife and kids, which were still trying to figure out what really happened.
"Life isn't fair, but… Guess the real culprit was the one driving the damn car that hit Kiera."
They followed Valerie while Markus stood behind, still looking for his words. He felt dizzy and the accusation ringed in his mind over and over: This man killed my daughter! What was he supposed to say when his job was to save life and when he couldn't?
"We're mere humans, but still… Why that girl…?"
His mind went awry and he began to lose his balance. His vision got blurred and he realized he was about to faint. Was it the shock? No, he'd already face those feeling of uselessness before. It was stronger than that. A sudden pain in the chest. A feeling of anxiety overwhelming him. He tried to keep rational, but he couldn't… Why did Val had to go with those people when he really needed her next to him. Then he understood what was happening to him. Well, as for the physical reaction. He remembered using his healing touch in the operation. More than one time, even more than three. How many time? Fifth. I've never overused it before…
He wanted to speak, to call for help when he felt his consciousness slipping out of his grip, but at the same time, he couldn't bear to hear his own voice. He was mad at himself. So mad. You deserved it. You overexert yourself and in the end, it didn't change anything.
When Val came back, it was to find her partner collapsed on the floor. She let out a yell of panic as she realized that he was unconscious and had hit his head hard enough to bleed. After a quick check-up, the wound was quite superficial and he would live through it. But he must have used the healing touch. Overuse it to be precise; otherwise, he wouldn't be in this state. She managed to turn him on his back and checked one more time all of his vitals, just in case. His breathing was slow and seemed painful. Maybe there was internal rebound of his healing touches abuse.
"Mark, you're always so collected and rational, how could you, of all the people, be that much careless?"
Guess her life counted more than your own in your mind. You've always been like that…
"Well, let's get you back in shape," she whispered as she slowly pulled him up.
He weighed a little less then what she'd expected, but it still was a handful to carry him to an empty room where he could rest in peace. She almost wanted to call some nurses to help check on his health, but she refrained from it. Instead, she called for Elena, who confirmed her doubts about Marcus abusing the healing touch.
"I hope he'll wake up soon. He's got himself quite a bump on the head…" Elena sighed.
"Has any patients come for either of us?" Valerie asked.
"No, doctor Blaylock. You can stay with doctor Vaughn till he wakes up…"
And so, Valerie waited through all lunch break. It was just around one pm that finally, she could observe a stirring in Markus' face.
"Hey there, sleeping beauty," she tried teasing him.
Markus rose in his bed slowly, sitting up straight before to grab his head with one hand.
"You lost consciousness in the middle of the corridor and hit your head when you fell, Mark. How are you feeling?" she cautiously asked.
"I'm perfectly fine." He groaned, trying to get up only to feel his head starting to spin and sit back. "Oh man, maybe not that fine…"
"I don't know… Maybe I really did overuse the healing touch. I feel lightheaded."
"Elena told me about it. What got into you to go that far? You know perfectly well how that stuff drains you. You're reacting as if you were doing anemia…"
"She shouldn't have died." Was all he could retort…
His voice sounded so broken as he looked down at his hands that Valerie felt a twitch in her heart. He was really shaken by what had happened. Even more than she'd thought he was at first.
"You did everything you could, I watched the tape, you made no mistake out there."
He glanced at her, trying to look at little cheerier, but unable to achieve a smile.
"You might be right, but..."
"Markus, I know it's always hard to face the loss of one patient, but..."
She looked for words that were once taught to her, so that she would accept what fate had in store for them sometimes.
"We never lost a patient since we've been working together." He observed, looking straight at the wall. "Somehow, I think I had forgotten how it felt. And it was such a young girl..."
He smiled weakly.
"She reminded me of you, Val."
She hadn't noticed, but now that he mentioned it, it was right, that the girl looked a great deal like her. The skin was the same color, so was her hair. And even her eyes. But then again...
"She was scared when we set her to sleep to operate, but she was confident. She trusted me, Val."
She sat next to him on the bed and reached one hand out to hold on his shoulder. Little support considering what he'd just been through. But she couldn't think of anything else. Or well, she didn't dare to do anything else.
"I can be quite pathetic sometimes, to let myself be moved by something like this with all my experience."
She shook her head. It was perfectly normal. No one should ever grow accustomed to death.
"It's okay, Mark. Experience don't change a thing in this kind of situation. You're also human."
"I was sure I had everything under control. I don't remember doing any mistakes. The operation was going smoothly, my hands were practically flying. And she underwent cardiac arrest all of a sudden."
His voice was low and Valerie felt terrible. She should have been there earlier, but she had been jammed in the traffic. Markus should have asked another doctor to operate with him. But would that really have changed anything? This looked like a phenomenon she had already heard of before. Instantaneous death...
Markus tried to hold back his shakings, but he remembered the family of the poor girl, the father looking at him. Glaring at him, close to despair... Losing a child was the worst thing a human could face. Losing a patient wasn't even close to it. And the doctor knew how many people had died from his doings. The research he had run and the virus he had ended up creating... He felt so bad for ever having a part in the stigma creation... They had fought hard against it. Maybe they would still have to fight in the future.
"You're too hard on yourself, Mark." Valerie sighed.
Her hand moved from his shoulder to his head and she sat closer, before to bring him to her in a tight hug. He stiffened in her arms, surprised. They had been friends and coworkers for a long time, but manners and unease had always kept them apart. How could they lose such a great friend by becoming anything more intimate? In her embrace, he felt sheltered and almost at home. He could almost forget... But his pride was wounded.
"You don't want me to cry, do you?"
"If you need to, I won't stop you," she retorted.
Her hands were brushing his short locks, the back of his neck. He wanted to hide, so that he wouldn't have to face her. Slowly, he snaked his arms around her shape and brought her closer. Their cheeks brushed. He lowered his head, resting his face in the hollow of her neck. She smelled good. She smelled life. He breathed her in and out and in again, trying to steady his shaking body and calm down the beating of his heart. A child had died under his hands today. It wasn't his fault. God, it wasn't his fault and he still had a right to be held by someone. He forced himself not to surrender to the bitter feelings he had built because of his loneliness during the few last months. Val had always been there for him, as a friend. He was starting to think he needed more. But he couldn't permit himself such joys. He had stained the earth with his terrible experiences, turning something good into something evil. How could he hold her without any guilt?
He tried to focus on other thoughts. Self torture wouldn't change anything about the past. He had to focus on the future. On the present, which was Valerie Blaylock gently holding him in her arms... He wanted to hide their, next to her heart for the rest of the day. He was afraid that if he followed his instinct, he could break their friendship. She was his friend, nothing more after all. Or was she...? Her warmth was so comforting, he forgot himself for a moment. He stroked her hair. Let his hand wander down her nape. He felt like giving her a complete check-up, but he knew better. He focused on smaller details, knowing that running away from his despair wouldn't make it disappear at all.
"Where's your blouse, Valerie?"
"I've taken a day off to be your personal nurse, Mark. You need it."
Her first sentence sent shivers down his spine. Good shivers. He hadn't felt like this since college. But it was wrong. His throat felt too tight an instant.
"I don't need a nurse. With a bit more sleep..." he started to explain, tearing her away from him so that he could look right into her eyes.
He was surprised by the look on her face.
"You've had your beauty sleep. I think you need a diversion."
He hated himself for letting his voice go out and sound so weak. But he was scared, diminished. He felt open, so open in front of her right now. He kept his hands on her shoulders, almost clutching to her. He needed her. He already knew it before, but it felt much more real. He couldn't tell her. He didn't deserve someone as pure as Valerie Blaylock. But she seemed to think otherwise. She stroked his cheek, before to follow the line of his jaw with one finger. He almost closed his eyes. Her touch was so soft. But it was Val, he couldn't let her flirt with him. Even though he wasn't sure what was going on, he knew how this could end.
"You're still shaking," she observed.
"I'm just tired," he protested, removing her hand from his face.
She didn't flinch, but he didn't let go of her fingers immediately. She blushed. It was one of the cutest things he'd ever see in his life, he could swear it.
"Mark, don't get me wrong. We're... I..."
He smiled at her hesitation. He had to stop this now before things got out of hand. Before that he started to get really emotional.
"Well, this is indeed a nice diversion, Val."
He wanted to touch her face, just to see how moved she would get. But he refrained himself.
"Markus, please, let me finish what I was saying... I... I know today's been really hard on you and I think there's another reason to it than just the death of that poor girl..." She put her free hand on his chest, grabbing his shirt firmly between her fingers, as if to prevent him from backing away. "You're pushing yourself too hard."
He frowned. So the diversion was over? But her fingertips were brushing his chest through the fabric of his shirt. He felt like a teenager all over again. With the butterflies, the fears and the furious needs... Her eyes were shining with worried thoughts for him. Her face was so close.
"Maybe am I..."
He gently took her second hand in his, and squeezed her fingers. She held back her breath. The whole situation felt too intimate suddenly. She realized she was slowly leaning into him.
"But I have to do the best I can for every patient."
"You should know by now, Markus; that working yourself to death won't save any more of them. By accepting your limits, you'll be able to take care of more cases and save much more people. And..."
He raised an eyebrow. Their fingers were laced together now. Val bit her lips, looking fragile suddenly. Her eyes were honest about her feelings and he saw something there, which he'd never expected. Something he'd dreamt he would see. And it was there in her deep brown eyes! She looked away, blushing once more and Markus realized he had stopped breathing for an instant.
"And...?" he encouraged her.
"And I don't think I can ever work with someone else than you, Mark. You scared me, you know, collapsing like that. You've lost some weight too. You've been forcing yourself. If this keeps on, you could get sick."
There was urgency in her voice and her hands held his own tighter, as if he could vanish into thin air.
"Well, won't you nurse me back to health, doctor Blaylock?" he tried to joke.
She didn't laugh. Instead, tears welled up in her eyes.
"What if I failed at healing you? Besides, I can't treat you, we're too close friends. I'm human too, you know. If I were to lose you..."
That was the last nail on his coffin. His eyes softened. How had this discussion come to this? When had she let down her defenses? Was she because he was already defenceless himself?
He held her despite his reason which was telling him to push her away. The hospital rules wanted them to stay simple friends. How could a couple of doctors operate someone, when their judgment could be clouded by emotions? At the moment, he didn't care.
"I... I love you, you know?" he whispered, his voice strengthening as he realized that his feeling was reciprocated.
Her eyes were wide from surprise, but a smile crept on her face. She wasn't sure why her own emotions had suddenly taken over her. He had been looking so vulnerable; it had gotten under her skin. She shivered in his embrace. Before that they knew it, they were kissing each other, all over the face. Then their lips finally met and it was over with reason or rules. They felt alive. Madly alive. At first, their kisses were clumsy. He was getting to know her. Their tongues brushed. Her hands held him down by firmly grabbing his collar. She felt demanding. She had been waiting for this for years. He hadn't expected that, but he responded to her fire with fire. When they finally broke apart, Markus felt kinda lightheaded. They both were breathless and Valerie had to blink a few times, as if she had trouble understanding that this was real.
They had both started to talk at the same time, feeling that this needed an explication. Their voices mixing together made them laugh.
"You go first," she suggested.
"No, ladies first," he said, stroking her cheek with his fingertips.
"I... I need to know if this is going to get serious, Markus. I wanted to comfort you, alright, but not like that..."
"It's forbidden for us to be working together and to go out together, I know the rules. But I love you, Val. You make me feel so much greater than I really am..."
"That's wrong, and you know it. You're an incredible doctor."
"Who made unforgivable mistakes... Losing one patient is too much for me."
"Then let's work together to prevent that from happening again." She suggested.
He was about to protest, but she shut him up with her lips on his mouth. Markus couldn't understand how he had stayed away from her for so long. She tasted good, like honey and something soft and fierce at the same time.
"I love you too, Markus, more than you'd know."
"Why are we having this discussion only now, then?"
"Guess I was afraid. We're coworkers. We should stay partial to each other."
"That could be hard now." He observed as if it was a matter of fact.
"Why don't we keep it a secret for now?"
That wasn't an entirely bad idea. At least that would give them some time to think of something else. He bent down to steal another kiss from her. He was still worried somewhere in the back of his mind, but it was too far to reach his dying reason. As she tangled her fingers through his hair, she stroked the bump behind his head, which halted their embrace.
"Owww, Val, watch what you're doing?!"
"Oh sorry. Maybe you could use some ice."
"Just... be gentler with me, okay?"
"I'd never have guess you were someone like that, Markus..."
To be continued?
I'm not too sure about this story, it was supposed to be a one shot first, but it took me the world to complete it. Seriously, I started this about a year over now... I never write so slowly, but it's trauma centre we're talking about. I still have to complete this game. Anyway, there's not enough fiction over this pairing. They're pretty lovely. Let me know if you'd like anything more like this! You know what you have to do! Reviews! ^^