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A&E fic: The Right Foot 1/2

February 1st, 2012 (12:07 pm)
mellow

feeling: mellow

Title: The Right Foot

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I clearly have a problem in that whenever I see a show/movie with James Murray, I have the perverse need to whump him. I’m sure this says something about me, but I’m just going to go with it for now. That said, this fic is because there really needed to be more Danny Barton in A&E.

A/N 2: It is worth noting that I have only seen the fourth season of this show, so my grasp of the characters and canon may be therefore extremely limited. Also, much thanks to sophie_deangirl for beta’ing and for helping me get access to this show in the first place. Apologies for anything that sounds not genuinely British. I do my best, but there’s only so much I can do without moving around the world :) I also did what I could with the medical aspect, but my scope there is limited even in American English so fudging it with a British flair may be less that realistic.

Summary: Danny’s first day takes a turn for the worst.



-o-

This was not the first impression Danny had wanted to make.

From bungling his meeting with Robert to having Amanda show up with his lunch, this day was an out and out disaster.

And that was before he’d gotten taken hostage while treating a patient.

Robert had been right: Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. At this rate, Danny would just be happy if he survived to try getting off on the other for day number two.

It really was stacked against him, though. From Robert’s willful determination to ignore the man with the gun to the dying bloke’s insistence on running his mouth, this was just not meant to be.

And then there was the man with the gun. He’d been pushed to the brink once and just by looking, Danny could see that he was that close to going there again. The first time was hard, but after that, Danny wondered if it was all downhill.

Danny could see it all, was the thing. He could see his patient dying; he could see Robert just standing there. He could see the man, ready to pull the trigger.

Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. If his mentor didn’t survive Danny’s first day, then getting a day two really didn’t make much difference.

And if he’d done everything else wrong, maybe he could still do this right. He’d said the wrong thing; he’d done the wrong; he’d sat there and done nothing while Robert played the hero.

Wasn’t he a doctor? More than that, wasn’t he a good person? Was he going to sit idly by and watch disaster continue to unfold or was he going to prove himself, right here, right now?

Danny didn’t fancy himself a hero. He’d worked hard to get to where he was, there was nothing magical about it. But all his planning and all his work hadn’t done much for him. But for all of it, maybe it was the next split second that would decide everything.

Life, death. A good person, a coward. The right thing, the wrong thing.

The right foot, the wrong foot.

Time for a second impression, at any rate.

And Danny didn’t think. He was on his feet and moving when the shot rang out and there was only pain.

-o-

Robert really should have just stayed in bed this morning.

That wasn’t an option, of course. Not with his son and not with his job. His wife was gone and he generally accepted that, but even the passage of two years didn’t make it much easier.

Neither did the constant demands of his job and wayward mentees and hostage situations.

That was a new one, at least. He’d encountered many things in his time at the A&E but finding his latest mentee being held at gunpoint was a new one.

The kid was scared out of his head and Robert couldn’t much blame him for that. He didn’t much want to be shot himself, but he was far too tired to be actively afraid. It was perhaps stupid to still believe in the inherent goodness of people – especially given his job – but he had to.

Just like he had to treat the patient in front of him, no matter who he was. He had to trust that the man with the gun would understand the fundamental difference between right and wrong.

Though, in retrospect, given that he’d already murdered one man, perhaps that was being a bit too generous. Robert didn’t fancy himself as naïve but he did suppose there was a certain arrogance to his ways in that he assumed he could prevent this disaster.

And what the hell. What was the worst of it? Getting shot?

Tragedy had already had its way in his life; he’d paid his dues. It couldn’t feasibly get worse.

Except, it could.

Robert didn’t like being wrong. He spent the better part of his career not being wrong. He was good; he was capable; he was good with people and he was a good doctor. And this time, he was wrong.

Of course, he hadn’t seen it at the time. Hadn’t even seen it as the patient bled out in front of him. Hadn’t seen it until Danny moved and the gunshot rang out a second time.

Danny was down as fast as he was up, falling away from the man. His eyes were wide, mouth open as he stumbled back against the wall, sliding down roughly to his bum. His hands were on his stomach and as Danny’s face went white, red seeped between his hands and Robert was wrong.

Wrong because it did get worse, wrong because there was something left to lose, wrong because he’d taken a gamble not with his own life, but with someone else’s and he’d lost.

Danny looked at him, shocked and surprised and pained. The kid had wanted to make a good first impression and bungled it every step of the way and now, there he was. Hurt and bleeding, playing the hero for Robert’s stubborn arrogance.

And suddenly, Danny wasn’t the only one starting off on the wrong foot. Robert just had to hope that there was time to make this right – one way or another.

-o-

Just like that, everything changed.

Robert was used to change. He was generally pretty good with it. With all his training, everything came back by default, no matter what he’d seen or what he’d experienced. It was what allowed him to treat any patient who came through the doors. It was what allowed him to go on after his wife’s death.

It was what helped him now.

The patient was forgotten now. He was dead and probably beyond saving. Even if he wasn’t, he simply wasn’t a priority. Christine would lecture him about playing God, about making decisions, but Robert didn’t care. He didn’t know Danny Barton well but the boy had just taken a chance to save Robert’s life and that mattered. It mattered more than the damn patient.

It just mattered.

Moving forward, Robert hit his knees, catching Danny as he slipped to the side. Carefully, he lowered the boy to the ground, positioning him on his back.

Danny gasped, his body tensing as sweat broke out on his forehead.

“Easy, easy,” Robert said gently as he turned his attention to the wound. He wrapped his fingers around Danny’s clenched hands, nodding with encouragement. “I just need to take a look.”

Danny’s breathing was ragged, his chest staggering as he shook his head, his entire body trembling with the effort.

“Just stop!” Eddie cried, swearing. “I didn’t mean to—“

Eddie was almost hysterical and Robert knew that hysterics and guns were bad combinations.

He also knew that Danny was his priority and, more than that, it was his turn to play hero. So if the son of a bitch wanted to shoot him too, then that would be the way it was.

Focused, Robert purposefully ignored Eddie and kept himself calm, forcing Danny to meet his eyes.

The blue eyes were bright, frightened. There was pain and there was uncertainty; he was young, too young for this. From the start, the kid had seemed eager and overzealous, which had made him easy to slot into an appropriate box and treat accordingly. But he looked different now, and Robert could see the vulnerability and naïveté he’d missed this morning.

He was just a boy. Capable but scared on his first day out on the job. And now there he was, all his good intentions aside, shot up and bleeding on the hospital floor.

There was no question in his gaze, though. Just acceptance. As if he was afraid of messing things up even further.

And to think, he’d just taken a bullet for Robert.

In short, it was painful to see and Robert had to work to keep his emotions in check.

But this wasn’t about him. Egocentrism was a sin he was guilty of more often than not, but it wasn’t one he could afford now. Holding Danny’s gaze, Robert smiled. “I just need a look,” he coaxed. “It’ll be all right.”

Danny’s eyes stayed fast on his for a long moment before he seemed to surrender, his hands loosening and his will giving way.

“Oh, shite,” Eddie moaned again in the background. “Is he okay? I just couldn’t let you treat the bastard. I couldn’t—“

Robert couldn’t spare him a look. Instead, he turned back to the wound, moving Danny’s bloodstained hands out of the way without resistance now.

At first glance, it was bad. The volume of blood was significant, which was perhaps not unexpected. Carefully but efficiently, he lifted Danny’s scrubs and undershirt, getting a glimpse of the wound in earnest.

It was a puckered hole, in the upper abdomen. Likely hit more than one abdominal organ, thereby increasing the chance of subsequent infection tenfold.

Worse, the bullet was still in him. So there was an inevitable surgery. With the rate of blood loss and the likelihood of infection, it was bad.

It was very, very bad.

Cursing under his breath, Robert looked up in time to see the door open. Security charged in and Eddie caved quickly as the guards overtook him.

Under him, Danny’s body bucked with fresh pain. A strangled cry escaped his throat and a new gush of blood flowed from the wound.

“Someone get me a backboard!” he bellowed, looking up in desperation, pressing a hand to Danny’s shoulder to keep him still. “We need to get him into resus!”

He looked down again, saw Danny’s face go white to ashen, his breathing erratic. Their eyes locked again, just for a moment before Danny’s pain was too much and his body writhed under Robert’s grasp.

Throat tight, Robert growled out the rest, “Now!”

Because even that might not be fast enough.

-o-

Terry arrived first, coming to the doorway with suitable surprise. “What’s all the racket—“ he started, but his voice trailed off.

Robert had torn away Danny’s shirt, exposing his chest and abdomen. The boy was lax now, lying prone and flaccid on the floor as Robert worked. The blood was everywhere now and Robert had no means to contain it.

“Bloody hell,” Terry breathed, coming closer.

“I need an IV line, stat,” Robert instructed, taking his stethoscope and pressing it carefully to Danny’s chest. “And where the hell is the backboard?”

Terry was already moving, going to the storage area in the room and pulling a few supplies. On his knees next to Danny’s other side, he pulled Danny’s arm straight, checking for a vein. “Coming, I’d guess,” Terry said. “Security is making a scene with this, securing the area.”

Robert grimaced, noting the diminished bowel sounds and the wetness of Danny’s breathing.

Terry started stringing the IV line, smiling down at Danny as he made the first prick. “Some kind of a first impression you’re making,” he joked.

Danny’s eyes were drowsy now, moving sluggishly toward Terry. There was dim recognition and Robert ran his fingers to the pulse in the crook of Danny’s arm, counting the delicate beats while Terry set up the line of saline.

“We’re also going to need blood,” Robert said plainly. “Type specific if we can.” He glanced back. Eddie was gone now, but a security guard was still there. “Come on, people! We need to move!”

As if on cue, Christine came around the doorway, a guard on her tail. “What sort of incident are you talking about?” she was saying. She stopped short, cursing as well.

She sidled in behind Terry and Robert felt her eyes on him before she looked at Danny. “What happened?”

Robert wet his lips, pressing down on the wound now, ignoring Danny’s flinch of pain. “We had a shooter looking for Danny’s patient,” he reported stiffly. “We tried to talk him down, but he shot the patient anyway. When I tried to help the patient, he fired again. Danny jumped in the way.”

The cold recitation was factual, which made it all the harder to accept. Robert should have seen this coming. He should have prevented it. He had had no second thoughts about risking his life but he’d never considered the other possible consequences.

Now Danny was on the floor. Bleeding. Maybe dying.

Not dying, though. Not if Robert had anything to say about it. He was a doctor and if he wasn’t good at anything else in his life, he was certainly good at that.

“Okay,” Christine said, her voice hardening, even though Robert could hear the fear underneath. She straightened. “I’m going to get the backboard and have Ruth prep the resus room.”

“Quickly,” Robert said, glancing up at her. He kept the pressure constant, feeling the thrumming of Danny’s pulse against his unyielding hands.

Her smile was tight but sympathetic. She didn’t reply but nodded, jogging out and into the hallway.

Robert trusted her. He trusted no one more than her.

Across from him, Terry was holding the bag of saline high, still smiling down at Danny easily. “I told you this morning,” he said. “Best damn A&E department in the region. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

The praise was something Robert had often believed, repeated with pride.

Looking down at Danny again, it felt hollow.

The boy blinked, even slower than before. His breathing was shallow now, sometimes hardly noticeable. His lips were tinged with blue, his body now loose with shock. He was going downhill – quickly. If he’d been shot off site, he wouldn’t even have made it to the hospital.

“Course, there are better ways to get on our good side,” Terry advised. “But you’re in good hands now. Remember? Robert’s the best.”

Danny’s breathing labored even more, the slow drags seeming to exhaust him. Still, his eyes moved haltingly toward Robert and even clouded and muted, the eye contact was undisputed.

Robert swallowed hard and tried to smile. “You saved my life,” he said. “So you better believe I’ll return the favor.”

There was noise from the hallway. Glancing up, he saw Christine come back in, supplies in hand and Sam right behind her.

Relieved, he looked down again, but Danny’s eyes had closed, his entire body limp.

And there was no more time for platitudes. No more time for thank you’s or promises.

It was time to save Danny’s life.

To Robert, there was simply no other option.

-o-

The team was good. Robert had invested the better part of his life into this department, and that was what he had to show for it. They were fast and efficient; they could understand each other implicitly and worked in perfect tandem under pressure.

And they treated everyone. Good people, bad people. Innocent victims and their criminal aggressors. Young and old, nice and mean. They did it without a thank you and piss poor pay.

But this was different.

This was one of their own. One they hardly knew, certainly, but still one of theirs. And Robert would be damned to lose one on his watch. Especially not one charged to his leadership.

That made this more important.

It also made it harder.

Getting Danny onto the backboard had been messy. With all the blood, the floor had been slick and Sam had nearly gone down while lifting, which very nearly spilled them all back to the floor. It had taken all of Robert’s willpower not to run – with his hand still pressed down hard and Terry holding the IV bag, it wasn’t a good idea – but his steps were even if hurried.

Danny hadn’t moved. He was still as they rolled him, limbs lax as they arranged him on the board and readied him for transport. He looked even younger than before, stripped down to his knickers and face slack in unconsciousness, and Robert’s stomach clenched tightly as they settled him under the bright lights of resus.

It was tempting to panic, but Robert didn’t panic. He set the tone, anyway, and he needed to keep it together. For Danny.

But the kid was making that tough.

Still, with Danny lying flat on the examination table, the entire crew came to life. Terry hung the IV, working with Sam to set up the leads. Christine was checking his airway while Ruth circled around toward Robert to gauge the wound.

“We’re going to have to get inside and clamp off the bleeder,” Robert announced.

Ruth lifted her chin, face tight. “You think it got the renal artery?”

Robert pursed his lips, bending closer to get a closer look through the slick of red blood coating Danny’s stomach. “Given the way it’s bleeding, I’d have to say it’s a good guess,” he said. “But there’s a mess of veins and arteries in that area. It could be more than one.”

Ruth grimaced. “Or the whole lot,” she said. She looked up. “Do we have blood yet?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Robert saw Sam stringing up a fresh bag, giving it a squeeze. “First unit is half in,” she reported.

That was something at any rate, though not nearly enough. Danny’s fingers were dusky as Terry set up the pulse-ox monitor, his chest not moving nearly enough for Robert’s comfort. It hadn’t been more than five minutes and the young doctor was showing signs of cyanosis, which meant that his circulation was poor and his pressure was probably about to bottom out.

“What’re his vitals?” Robert barked out.

“Pressure is barely registering,” Terry reported. “His blood oxygen levels are barely hitting 70.”

Robert cursed. “We’ll need to intubate.”

“On it,” Christine said, grabbing her equipment. “Someone have a number 8 ET tube?”

Sam produced one, holding it out.

“Has anyone taken the blood for a type and cross?” Robert asked. “I want the next unit to be type specific.”

“We’re analyzing it,” Terry said. “And I’ve got the blood bank on hold for our request.”

“What happened anyway?” Ruth said, pressing gauze up to the wound.

Robert shook his head. “No time for that now,” he said. “He’s going to need a quick trip up to theatre. Is there one available?”

Terry pulled away. “I’ll check.”

Christine was bent low at Danny’s head and Robert paused in his assessments to watch her. She was focused and intent, eyes on Danny’s mouth even while the chaos went on about her. She used one gloved hand to open his jaw, putting her guide in. Carefully, Robert watched her thread the tube down, using just the right amount of pressure before pulled the guide out.

Just like Robert had taught her. He was a good mentor. The doctors he fostered turned out well. He hadn’t had a failure yet.

Except the one lying bleeding on the table in front of him.

Robert’s stomach felt so cold it hurt.

“I’m in,” Christine announced and Sam came around, hooking up an oxygen bag and hyperventilating Danny for a quick burst to his O2 SATs.

Suddenly, a monitor chirped, their only warning before Danny’s body convulsed, going ramrod straight before tremors overtook him.

Robert cursed and Sam yelped, trying to move with him to keep the tube in place.

Another monitor started to wail and Danny went deadly still, his head rolling limply as his arms went lax at his sides once again.

“We’re out of time,” Robert growled out. “What’s the word on the theatre?”

Terry looked over from the phone. “Still tracking down a surgeon.”

Robert swore. “He’ll bleed out by then.”

“You thinking of opening him?” Ruth asked.

“I’m thinking we have no choice,” Robert said, reaching toward the tray of tools and selecting his scalpel.

“You’re not even in a gown,” Christine chided him.

“Then put me in a bloody gown,” Robert snapped, turning his attention solely to the bloodied hole in Danny’s abdomen.

From nowhere, someone put one over his head, tying it off for him as he assessed the best cut possible for the right access.

“A wide cut will give you better access,” Ruth said.

“And leave him ripe for sepsis,” Robert said. He shook his head. “Keep it as small as possible until we get him up to theatre.”

“That’s an insane amount of precision,” Christine said.

“Which is why I better not screw it up,” Robert agreed, ignoring the blatant doubt in her voice.

He didn’t doubt her further desires to protest, but he figured she knew him well enough not to question. It wouldn’t change his mind anyway.

“Whatever you do, you better do it fast,” Terry advised. “His vitals are tanking.”

Robert paused, sparing one last look up at Danny’s face. Sam was still holding the oxygen bag, squeezing it in even intervals. Danny’s eyes were closed, eyelids blushed with blue even with the oxygen, dark eyebrows stark against his colorless skin.

He could die.

But not on Robert’s watch.

Resolved, Robert turned back to the wound, not hesitating as he sliced through the skin, opening up the abdomen to the internal workings of the boy’s stomach.

Inside, Robert stopped thinking about Danny. He stopped thinking about him as his mentee, a boy whose training he was charged with. He stopped thinking about him as the man who had saved his life, who had spent the entire day trying to impress him.

It was just medicine now. Pure biology.

It was hard to see with the amount of blood. He was trying to sort out the veins and arteries when a new alarm sounded.

“He’s arresting,” Christine reported.

Robert made a face, jaw tight. Terry didn’t have to be asked to get into position, pressing down on Danny’s chest in tight, even compressions.

Christine had the paddles, pressing them to Danny’s chest as Terry made way. Frustrated, Robert pulled away as well.

“Clear,” Christine said, deploying the shock.

Danny’s body arched off the table briefly before going limp again.

Robert’s eyes turned to the monitor, looking for a change.

“No effect,” Terry said even as Sam picked up the oxygen bag and started squeezing it again.

Christine’s expression wavered. “Can we get a round of epi?” she said, pressing the paddles down. “Clear.”

Sam dropped the bag and again, Danny’s body hitched upward before falling still back to the table.

This time, however, the monitor blipped.

“We’ve got a pulse,” Terry confirmed, sounding relieved. “Spotty and weak, but it’s there.”

And that was all Robert needed. Stepping forward again, he resumed his position, sorting through the blood to find the source.

“We need to get him up,” Christine said.

“If we don’t clamp off the bleeder, he’ll be dry by the time we hit the lift,” Ruth said.

“I know, but he needs surgery,” Christine said. “Not a quick fix.”

“He needs me to finish,” Robert snapped. “So if you could both kindly shut up—“

Ruth demurred and Christine sucked in a ragged breath of protest. Robert didn’t have time to listen to her, as good as her intentions were. Instead, he kept himself focused.

And then, he saw it.

It was as clear as the parting of the damned Red Sea. Through the blood, through the mess, the clearly torn renal artery.

With grim satisfaction, Robert bore down. “Clamp,” he said.

Automatically, Ruth handed him one and Robert took it without looking, eyes intent on the source.

Carefully, not to risk further damage, he put the clamp in place, easing it in before deploying it firmly.

And just like that, the bleeding eased.

“Got it,” he said, pulling his hand out. “We ready to take him up?”

They were all watching him, from Sam with the oxygen bag to Christine with her mouth open in uncertainty. Terry was poised at the side, squeezing a bag of blood while Ruth flanked his side, quickly bandaging the incision for transport.

“I think we’re still waiting for confirmation,” Christine said finally.

“And his vitals are still dangerously low but he’s holding on,” Terry reported.

Robert scanned the monitors, noting the nearly nonexistent BP and the poor oxygen levels. They’d avoided disaster, but only for now.

There wasn’t time to hesitate. Unlocking the wheels of Danny’s bed, he nodded toward the monitors. “Then someone get back on the damned phone and tell them we’ll meet them there,” he said.

“But—“ Christine said.

“No buts,” Robert said, starting them out. Terry and Sam scrambled to get the equipment ready to follow. “Unless one of you wants to explain to his family why their son’s first day was also his last.”

-o-

It wasn’t a long trip up to theatre, but it felt like ages. In the elevator, Danny’s stillness was pervasive.

Sam was squeezed in next to him, still manning the oxygen bag. Terry was watching the monitors and Robert found himself with nothing to do except watch.

That was the worst of it, of course. Not just to see one of his own injured on his behalf but to be helpless to do anything more. Robert had pulled out all the stops, done all he could, and Danny’s expression was still translucent, tinged with a dangerous shade of poor oxygenation even as Sam filled his lungs with air.

In that, Danny’s chest was the only thing that moved. Even and careful, it rose and fell with Sam’s pressure.

So Robert looked at him. Really looked at him. His slack face was expressionless now, lips pulled apart with the ET tube. It was hard to remember him from this morning – just hours ago – mortified at his introduction, slightly sickened when he’d gotten a handful of brain matter while transporting a patient, then downright terrified when Robert had found him being held at gunpoint.

But he’d been bright and capable. He’d had potential. Robert had seen that, too, the ease of stepping in, the certainty of his diagnostic procedures.

And compassionate. The brain matter had bothered him, as well it should have. He was young, not experienced enough to handle such things as death and brain damage quite like second nature. Compassion was essential to thriving here.

Compassion, knowledge and readiness.

And determination. That blank look on his face when he’d dived at Eddie, like he’d known there was no turning back.

He’d been right about that. There was no turning back. And Danny was half dead on the gurney to prove that point.

This kid could be a great doctor, one of the best Robert would ever see.

Or he could die, right here, right now. Die saving Robert’s life.

His stomach roiled at the thought, and when the elevator pinged, he tore his eyes away from Danny’s waxy features, intent on his goal again.

Danny couldn’t die. Robert wouldn’t let him.

With fresh vigor, Robert pushed the gurney out into the hallway, directing it expertly down the way toward the theatres. “Which one are we in?” he asked.

“Ah, three, I believe,” Terry said. “But we’re still waiting on word from one of the on-call doctors to meet us there.”

Robert worked his jaw but didn’t slow down as he pushed through, going through two sets of double swinging doors to where a pair of nurses was setting up. “Who’s coming?” he asked promptly, moving the gurney into place.

One of the nurses raised an eyebrow. “Not sure yet,” she said.

Robert shook his head, efficiently lining up the gurney next to the operating table. He nodded to Terry and Sam, who synched up with him. On the count of three, they lifted him, moving him over onto the waiting table. The other nurse joined in, hooking up the monitors and prepping the area.

“You better get sure,” Robert said. “He’s extremely hypovolemic and I’ve clamped off his renal artery. Bullet’s still in there and if it ricocheted down, we could be looking at a mess in his intestinal tract.”

“Reynolds should be coming,” she said. “But he’s at least thirty minutes out.”

Robert clenched his teeth. “Thirty minutes this patient doesn’t have,” he snapped. “Who’s in one and two?”

“Emerson and Dawes,” she reported.

“And what are they doing?” he demanded.

“We’ve still got two of the patients from the accident earlier,” she said.

“What’s their condition?” he pressed.

“One critical but the one Dawes’ has is stable,” she said.

“Pull Dawes,” he ordered.

“You know I can’t—“

“No,” Robert snapped. “I know that if we wait until someone decides to show up, this kid will bleed out or die from sepsis before we even get him open.”

The nurse opened her mouth to protest.

Robert shook his head, adamant on this. “And this kid is a doctor. This is his bloody first day and I don’t want to give him the impression that we’re an incompetent lot by letting him die while being a hero, do you?”

She looked marginally cowed, her jaw working. She blinked rapidly. “Let me go see what I can do,” she said, ducking toward the door.

“You do that,” he grumbled after her.

With her gone, Robert’s confidence wavered and almost deflated entirely when he looked back at Danny.

The boy looked worse. Robert hadn’t thought it possible, but he looked worse even as the nurse prepped him for surgery.

His stomach was still stained with blood, and the gurney that was now pushed to the side was soaked with it. Sam was still squeezing in the oxygen and Terry’s front was awash with red from his preliminary treatment by Robert’s side.

Robert had gotten him this far, but it might not be far enough.

Robert might not be enough.

That kind of failure – it was hard to accept.

No, it was impossible. Not today, of all days.

There was a banging at the door and Robert looked up in time to see Dawes charge in. “What gives you the bloody right?” he demanded.

Robert refused to blanch. “This is Danny Barton, new resident in A&E,” he said, gesturing toward his still mentee, who was now partially draped for surgery. “He took a bullet to the upper abdomen while treating a patient and subsequently saving my life.”

It was an explanation Dawes clearly hadn’t expected. The anger drained from his features slightly, a hint of curiosity and worry replacing it. “What did it hit?”

“We don’t know for sure,” Robert said. “Nearly severed the renal artery, which we clamped off downstairs. He’ll need an ex-lap. Can we get some film on him so we know where we’re looking?”

The nurse nodded, moving away.

Dawes paused, eyes narrowing at Robert. “You have some kind of gall,” he said. “But we’ll see if we can pull him through.”

“That’s all I want,” Robert said.

Dawes nodded, moving back toward the door. Then he paused, turning around with a grim smile. “Oh, but one more thing.”

“Yes?” Robert asked.

“If you’re here when I get back, I will have security escort you out of here, no matter how genuine your intentions might be,” he said, his words dripping with certainty as he pushed back through the doors to wash up.

That was fair. More than that, it was reasonable.

Still, Robert didn’t want to leave.

Looking down at Danny, he studied the pale features again. Wondered if he’d get the chance to know him better, to be the mentor the kid deserved.

He had to believe it.

Chest tight and stomach uncertain, Robert walked out and had to believe it.

-o-

Robert wasn’t sure what happened after that. One minute, he was in the operating room, making a scene; the next, he was seated in his office, staring blankly at the wall.

It was coming back to him now. Not just Danny’s prone body stretched out on the operating table, but all of it. Danny looking at him through half-lidded eyes, bleeding out in an examination room. Danny jumping in front of him, taking the bullet meant for him. Danny sitting pathetically on the chair, scared out of his mind.

Danny flushing with embarrassment as he took his lunch. Danny gritting his teeth and saying bollocks while Robert visually dressed him down. He’d thought the boy competent but not impressive, pleasant but not appealing. Mostly, he hadn’t thought much about the boy at all.

There had been so many other things. The anniversary of his wife’s death, his son. The day to day grind at A&E and potential job options.

In the past, Robert had taken his role as mentor more seriously. He’d mentored some of the best, after all. And he had planned on getting around to it with Danny but he just hadn’t had the time. He hadn’t had the energy.

Mostly, he just hadn’t made the effort.

He had Danny’s blood all over his hands, he’d literally had his fingers inside the boy and he didn’t know him. The bloody idiot had taken a bullet for Robert and Robert didn’t know the first thing about him.

There was a soft knock at the door; Robert studiously ignored it.

A moment later, Christine came in. She lingered for a moment before settling in the nearby chair.

“You okay?” she asked.

Robert’s jaw worked. He didn’t look at her. Didn’t move. “He was my responsibility.”

“You did everything you could,” she said.

“I barely gave him two looks today,” Robert countered.

“We were busy,” she said.

Robert finally looked at her, glaring. “And you think that’s a good enough reason?” he asked. “Good enough that he has to be upstairs in theatre to dig a bullet out of his gut?”

The force was sudden and Christine hemmed herself in slightly. But she knew him too well to back down. “This wasn’t anyone’s fault,” she said evenly. “Just the man who pulled the trigger; no one else.”

“Like hell,” Robert muttered, turning away again. His shoulders were weary and bent as he shook his head.

“You’re not a superhero, Robert,” she said, a bit adamant now.

“I thought I could talk him down,” he admitted.

She frowned. “What?”

“I thought I could talk him down,” Robert said. “I thought I could convince him not to pull the trigger and get us all out of there alive.” He paused, remembering. Remembering the way Eddie’s gun had almost fallen, the way it had almost ended much, much better. “But I couldn’t. He still killed the patient and then I had the audacity to think he wouldn’t shoot me, too.”

Except he had. He had pulled the trigger again and the bullet had been meant for Robert. It should have been him on the floor bleeding just like it should be him upstairs right now in theatre.

“Arrogance,” he said, shaking his head tiredly. He turned, quirking his lips into a smile as he looked at Christine. “Apparently you’re right; I’m not perfect.”

Christine’s expression flickered. “It doesn’t change anything,” she said. “We go in here, day after day, and make the best decisions we can. We’re not always right but we can’t spend our time thinking about how we might be wrong or we wouldn’t be much good to anyone.”

She was right. Robert knew she was. Because that was the kind of thing he had told her. She had learned a lot since Robert had met her; she’d grown into a good doctor. A good person.

He sighed, letting his head drop forward again. “That’s good advice,” he mused.

“Well,” she said, nudging slightly closer to him. “I did learn from the best.”

He laughed, tired and rueful. “I used to think so,” he said. “But there’s a boy up in theatre who I never gave the same chance to.”

“It was his first day,” she reminded him.

He looked up, meeting her eyes. “And that’s the point,” he said. “His first day. And I didn’t make anything of it at all.”

It was a truth that was hard, one that not even Christine could talk him out of. Robert was glad she didn’t try. Instead, she put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing. “First days aren’t so important. Second days, third days – all the rest,” she said. “That’s what matters.”

Sitting there in his office, Christine by his side, Robert had to hope that was true.

PART TWO

Comments

Posted by: sidura (sidura)
Posted at: February 1st, 2012 10:09 pm (UTC)

A&E I mind that show - it had Martin Shaw in it.

My mum never missed an episode.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)

I have only seen the fourth (and last?) season and only because I am quite clearly obsessed with James Murray :)

LOL, the things we do for the love of an actor!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 06:47 am (UTC)
Old Fashioned Stephen


////there really needed to be more Danny Barton in A&E////

At least they gave him a bare-chest scene, which is more than they managed on Chaos!

////And that was before he’d gotten taken hostage while treating a patient.////

Poor Danny! It was quite a first day, and now you’ve made it worse for him. LOL. Great Robert thoughts too.

Great med detail – do you have a med background or do a lot of research?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 01:12 pm (UTC)
billy earnest

At least they gave him a bare-chest scene, which is more than they managed on Chaos!

This is very, very true. It was a lovely scene. But now I'm just pining for Danny AND Billy, which is no good.

Poor Danny! It was quite a first day, and now you’ve made it worse for him. LOL

This does seem to be my way of doing things :)

Great med detail – do you have a med background or do a lot of research?

I'm glad it came across like I knew what I was talking about! I have zero medical background and I actually did zero research. I just have watched a great deal of ER in my lifetime. Which, if that counts as research, then it's really fun research!

Thanks :)

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