Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel/ burningeden
Rating: R for this part - strong language and death
Summary: Oh, the angst.
A/N: Thank you all for the wonderful comments. Such an inspiration.
Gossip spread faster than disease at Seattle Grace. Naturally, as with most chatter, what starts as the truth is usually twisted to sound more fascinating and more perilous as the day wears on. By the time word of the attack on Callie reached the Chief, people were saying that she had lost a finger and someone was correcting them to give a ‘first hand’ account of Dr. Torres being thrown face first through the window of the waiting room. Chief Webber had worked in the hospital long enough to believe neither report, but something obviously *had* happened and he meant to find out what.
Life as the Chief of Surgery at one of the busiest hospitals in the Northwest was never easy. He had worked hard over the years to secure his place at the top and he liked to believe that he mentored his staff to the best of his abilities. His patience was worn thin, however. Adele had given him an ultimatum: retire or remove himself from her life. After weeks of attempting to live without his wife, he was ready to retire and had set his plan into motion. However, the gears of change had screeched to a halt when news of Preston Burke’s deceit had been revealed.
Of all the people in the world who would purposely endanger countless patients, Dr. Burke never seemed like one of them. Not as a doctor. Not as a human being. But he had done just that and Richard had no idea how to proceed. His job as the Chief was to dole out fitting punishments and run a tight ship. In his mind’s eye, Burke was the main sail of the ship and the best candidate for Chief of Surgery.
Richard emerged from the elevator into the usual bedlam of the emergency room. His gaze rested on Dr. Stevens, who was standing just behind Addison Shepherd with her hands in her pockets. The poor girl looked miserable in her ‘shadow’ capacity and the Chief looked away. She was another one that he couldn’t deal with at the moment. She had made her bed and now she would have to sleep on the wrinkles that even he couldn’t iron out for her.
Further down the hallway, Christina Yang stood staring at the surgical board. It was obvious that Dr. Bailey had shut her out of every operating room and no one could blame her for it. Miranda Bailey had paid dearly for her interns running roughshod over hospital policy and she was keeping a tight leash on everyone. He watched as Yang threw her hands in the air and muttered something about being ‘better off sitting at home’ before she stalked down the hallway and into the lounge.
He was relieved a moment later when Dr. Torres emerged from one of the trauma rooms, followed closely by two hospital security guards. There was a small patch of gauze taped to her face and he made a beeline for her, pausing a few feet away to listen to her giving orders to the nurse on duty. When she turned, he nodded at her. "How bad is it?"
"Four stitches. And one very unhappily restrained bouncer in need of a cast, but I can’t wrap him until he calms down." She shook her head. "What a day."
"You’re due in surgery in fifteen minutes. Do you want me to take it?"
"No. I’m fine. Simple hip replacement." She shrugged a little. "But thank you."
"Did you go for a CT scan?"
"Hmm." He took a step forward, tilting her face to one side. "Would you mind if I did a little prodding just to make myself feel better?"
"Knock yourself out." She held perfectly still while his skilled fingers pressed against the bones in her face.
"Any bleeding from the nose?"
"None." At his urging, she rolled her head all the way around and followed his finger back and forth. "Satisfied?"
"Not quite. I’d like a word." He nodded toward the empty trauma unit across the hall. When she followed him into the room, he shut the door behind them. "I saw you drinking last night at the Archer. I do want to remind you that I don’t ask a lot of my staff, but I demand that you not let a night of alcohol follow you into my hospital."
"I would never-"
"Callie," he gently cut her off, reading the shock on her face and trying to offset it. "I’ve seen you milking the coffee machine all day. Doctors get tired and I’m not faulting you for that, but if you’re going to drink in the evenings please know your limits and don’t come to work hungover."
She nodded. "Yes, sir."
"And as always, my door is wide open to you if you need to talk about anything or if you’re not happy. Okay?"
"Go replace a hip and if there are no other calamities today you can head out early."
"What about the boxer over there?"
"Oh, he’s all mine."
The operating room was bustling with activity when Callie finally scrubbed in twenty minutes late. She had retreated to the ladies room to collect her thoughts and it took longer than she expected to find her center. Four shots did not a hangover make as far as she was concerned and Chief Webber had shocked her with what he had said. She didn’t know whether to cry or take him up on his offer for a chat. Either way, she was very close to losing it and the mental pep talk started the second she opened the door of the operating room and slipped her gloves on.
George was already waiting beside the gurney and made a great show of glancing at the clock on the wall over her head and sighing loudly. With great effort on her part, she ignored him and bent a little so her surgical scrubs could be tied more securely by one of the nurses.
"How long has he been under?" she asked, glancing at Uly, who had been entubated.
"For twenty minutes now," George replied. "I won’t remind you that staying under anesthesthia for unnecessary time is not only dangerous, but ill advised."
"Unless you plan to make anesthesiology your field, Dr. O’Malley, then don’t try to impress us with your knowledge," she snapped. "Has everyone scrubbed in with me before"
When everyone nodded, she said, "Okay, then you know that nothing happens before a moment of silence. Use it to think about this man, Ulysses Parkinson. Our goal is to put him back on his feet without a limp and without pain."
After a few seconds of silence ticked past, Callie began the operation. Because an intern was present, she was required to run a commentary and ask random questions throughout the procedure. She would fill out a ‘report card’ later based on George’s participation. Just as she knew he would, he answered correctly and asked several intelligent questions of his own.
An hour into the surgery, she regretted skipping breakfast as her stomach grumbled loudly. One of the nurses chuckled and Callie smiled behind her mask. "That’s what I get for skipping breakfast," she said with a chuckle.
George’s hand was inches away and when his fingers gently brushed over hers, she dropped the tool she was using to fit the ball and joint. It clattered loudly against the floor tiles and she swore under her breath. The nurse handed her a fresh one and she took a deep breath, reaching into the incision again. "Can you reposition the clamp? I’m having trouble getting around it," she told him.
George made the adjustment and watched as she worked. Her hands were shaking and he glanced up at her in time to see sweat beading on her forehead. "Callie?"
She jumped and almost dropped the tool again. Luckily, she was able to keep a firm grasp on it. "What, O’Malley?"
"Why don’t you take a break?"
"And leave my patient under unnecessary anesthethsia? Heavens no."
"You could never be considered passive-aggressive."
"And you could never be considered aggressive." A couple of the nurses sniggered and Callie closed her eyes for a second, rolling her shoulders. Her neck had stiffened up on her and the pain was radiating up into the back of her head. "Let’s get this done."
George watched her closely, eyes narrowed. What he could see of her face was pale. "I really think you need to sit down for a second."
"O’Malley!" she snapped loudly. "Shut the hell up or get the hell out!"
The reply died on his lips when the sound every doctor dreads pierced through the room. The heart monitor had flatlined. He took a step back and watched as Callie shouted for the paddles. She shocked the man and stared at the monitor, but nothing happened. The order was given for the charge to be turned higher and the second shock caused the old man’s prone form to jump. The line on the screen flashed once, twice, three times and the heartbeat returned.
"Page the cardiac unit, stat," she said to the nurse nearest her, but her gaze never left the monitor. Before her eyes the comforting blips began to come fewer and farther apart. "Damn it!"
"Dr. Torres, he’s a DNR," one of the nurses who was taking notes said. "Cardiac won’t touch him."
The monitor sounded again. Flatline. Callie grabbed the paddles and shouted, "Clear!"
George said, "Callie, he’s DNR."
She shocked the man for the third time, ignoring the comment. When nothing happened on the monitor, she requested a higher charge, but the nurse refused to comply. She set it herself and moved back to Ulysses. George had his hands on the old man’s chest. "Clear, O’Malley."
"No. It’s done."
"It’s DONE!" George took the paddles from her, wrenching them from her hands. "Call it."
George checked the clock and said, "Time of death, one eighteen p.m.."
"Son of a bitch!" Callie yelled, yanking her mask off. She stalked across the room, yanking off her gloves and surgical scrubs and throwing them in the trash. "Damn it!"
George followed behind her. "Callie, his blood pressure-"
"Don’t fucking blame me for anything else!" she shouted. "I can’t carry any more on me, George!"
"I’m just saying you should have considered his blood pressure. You asked me to do those labs and then didn’t want to hear what I had to say." He blocked her when she started past him. "Or maybe you were just so caught up in McSteamy that you couldn’t be bothered to hear me."
The second he said the words he regretted it. Her face fell and for a split second, he was tempted to reach for her. She shook her head and said, "Stitch him back up. And make sure you note that I killed him on your paperwork."
She shoved him out of the way before he could apologize and slammed out of the room. He chased after her, into the hallway, with her name on his lips, but she was gone.