Summary: What do you say when words won't fix it? (Jean POV), c.
Warnings: Not sure, really. But it's certainly not a happy topic.
Notes: Scott got his pov piece; Jean's turn. I'm being uncreative
in my titles, but this is really the second half of Shana's story.
:-) Thanks to Vic for reminding me what time it was <g>, as well as
to all the NYC info. I couldn't have written this little chapter
without her. Decided to go with the car, Vic. :-) The stories about
Grady are from my own experience, and the tale of the GSW is true.
I've never been in St. Mary's; descriptions of the ER is based on the
ERs I have been in. I never did get the medi-babble I wanted, but I
got impatient; this has been "in process" too long.
Rush hour. New York City.
I think I'd rather have an enema than suffer rush hour in a car. At
least Scott was sparing me the driving part, but I still had to sit
through it. Stop, start, stop, start. Scott swearing under his
breath at the State of New York for "letting fucking idiots behind
the steering wheel."
"You're going to get an ulcer before you're forty," I tell him.
He whispers something obscene under his breath in reply. Admittedly,
I haven't known him long, and I've never before driven anywhere with
him (I don't think the Blackbird counts), but somehow, I doubt it's
the traffic. His knuckles are white on the wheel.
"We could have taken the subway," I say.
"I'm not walking you back to the subway after dark in that
I don't reply. We take FDR down to the Brooklyn Bridge and cross the
dark water, waves below lapping white in an autumn wind, to
Brooklyn-Queens, and one exit south to Atlantic Avenue.
"Lock the doors," Scott says as we exit the BQE.
Even taxi drivers don't like to go down Atlantic.
It gets worse, the further we go. Burned out and boarded-up
storefronts here and there, and the kind of dirty poverty that bears
one down, even to see it. We pass a shopping mall with an Old Navy
and a K-Mart. People are on the street in the twilight of coming
evening, a sea of brown skin. I feel like a privileged ghost
haunting where I don't belong. Pedestrians notice the car. It
stands out in the neighborhood. Silver jag. White boy, you're on
the wrong side of town.
We take Atlantic to Rochester Avenue and make a right, then go four
blocks to St. Mark's and make a left. Buffalo Avenue is a block down
and we can see the parking garage. It's packed. They usually are
and I sigh. Finally, Scott finds a spot four floors up. As he's
pulling into it, I undo my seatbelt to reach over into the back where
I'd flung my white lab coat earlier with my name stitched on the
left, along with a few medical 'accessories.' Before we'd left
Warren's, I'd made Scott wait while I ran upstairs after these. If
I've learned nothing else about hospitals, it's that doctors and
chaplains can get in anywhere they want as long as they act like they
know what they're about. I hadn't taken time to change anything
other than the flannel shirt for a blue silk blouse, and grab the
coat. Now, I slid out of the car and into medical white, twisting my
hair up into a clip even as I was headed for the stairs, Scott on my
heels. He got to it first and held the door for me, gave me a fast
once over. Even with the glasses, I can tell the direction of his
gaze. "That was quick, Dr. Grey. I'm officially impressed."
"Three minutes from first beep to the ER on a trauma call. You learn
how to be quick," and I was past him down the stairs,
running-not-quite-running. He kept up without trouble, out the
bottom door and down the sidewalks past the hospital visitors and the
locals. Here on hospital grounds, at least, we were back in a racial
rainbow and I felt less out of place. "Reminds me of Grady," I
"Grady Medical Center in Atlanta. Same kind of neighborhood, same
kind of clientele. The advantage of working in a place like that is
you see it all."
It was a walk to reach the ER doors and the covered drive for
ambulances. "What were you doing in Atlanta?" he asked.
"You didn't do that here in New York? I thought you went to
"That doesn't mean I did my residency there. I worked at the CDC,
and did an ER residency at Grady. Oh �- CDC . . . Center for Disease
Control." I glanced at him sidewise. "AIDS research."
"That surprise you?"
I know that I've handed him a difficult question. Either way he
answers, he risks putting his foot in his mouth and he knows it, so
he doesn't reply. I elaborate for him. "I spent my life sheltered
and privileged, Scott. I didn't like it. I wanted to do something,
make a difference. I didn't become a doctor to make money, whatever
my mother thought. So I chose to work on AIDS research. And I did a
residency in Grady because . . . ." I trailed off. I'd meant to
say, 'because I wanted to see how the other half lived,' but that
sounded patronizing and arrogant. Instead, I finished with, "I
learned a lot � and not just about medicine."
He's glancing around himself at the people. He's not from my social
class, maybe, but he's still solidly upper middle and it shows in
everything from the clothes he chooses to his haircut to his educated
cursing in the car. "I can imagine."
We're almost to the doors and I grin over at him. The sun is lost
behind the red brick towers and everything is in shadow. "First day
in the ER, they wheeled in a guy with a GSW -� gun shot wound -� to
the chest. Barely got him in the doors when a second guy came
running in after, pulled a gun and finished the job. Right there in
the ER lobby." Scott's jaw drops. "Needless to say, there was blood
everywhere and we were all ducking for cover."
"And you stayed after that?"
"I stayed because of that, Scott. It woke me up. I loved it there.
I met some amazing people � just amazing. Only a handful had skin my
And the doors are in front of us with their big "Emergency" in red on
the glass, wooshing apart to admit us both. People clog the hall, a
mostly-brown sea of pain, boredom, fear, or confusion. I slam up
every shield the professor taught me to make and hope it'll suffice
as I weave between, looking for a tall blond head that would stand
out above the rest.
But it's Logan who I see first, and who sees us. He cuts right
through and grabs both my arms. "What the hell are you doing here,
Jeannie?" And he glares over my shoulder at Scott. "You dickhead �
don't you have any better sense than to bring her to a freakin'
hospital?" What he doesn't say, but we all know, is that a hospital
was where my telepathy had first manifested �- catastrophically.
Yet before Scott can do more than open his mouth, I grab Logan by the
chin and jerk his head back to face me. "Listen, mister. This is
what I do for a living. Did for a living. Scott isn't 'letting' me
come anywhere. My choice. I appreciate the thought, but I can
decide for myself. We clear? Now where's Warren and what happened?"
I let him go. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Scott grinning.
Logan blinks but actually backs down, tells me instead about the
explosion at the warehouse. I can *feel* Scott getting madder by the
minute till he's like a white tower of indignant rage behind me.
Reaching back without even thinking about it, I get hold of his hand
and squeeze. He squeezes back, and relaxes a little.
"So the upshot of it," Logan finishes, "is that Wing-Boy is pacing
around in front of the doors with some chaplain whose trying to keep
him from barging in there, and the girl's family is on the way. And
we don't know a damn thing because we're not family."
I nod once, shortly, and glance back at Scott, let his hand go.
"Take care of Warren." He nods and is already half gone even before
the words are out of my mouth.. "You, too," I say to Logan. "I'll
see what I can find out."
Straightening my jacket and hanging my stethoscope around my neck (a
prop to prove my right to wear the white), I make sure the
embroidered "Dr. Grey" is clearly visible on the left side of my
jacket and clip an old ID badge from my previous job -� backwards �-
low on a pocket, then push my way through towards the big double
doors that separate the ER from the waiting rooms. Warren is
standing there, protesting, as Scott tries to lead him off to a
chair. I kiss Warren on the cheek. "Go with Scott," I say, then
take a breath before pushing the doors open.
"Please God," I whisper to a deity in whom I've never believed. "Let
my shields hold."
Inside isn't much quieter than the hall beyond, but it's a controlled
chaos. Trauma A is directly in front of me past the nurses station
on the right, and I can hear them calling back and forth. Sidling up
to the door, I listen to shop-talk. They're transfusing and trying
to get her fluid up �- stabilize her enough to take her to surgery.
The most serious damage is a nicked aorta that's tearing further from
Suddenly there's someone tugging on my sleeve and it makes me jump.
I turn around, into an olfactory assault of fetid breath and unwashed
man. Ugh. Involuntarily, I scrunch up my nose and pull back. This
always was the hardest thing for me to deal with when treating
indigents: the smell. I knew they had few places to wash but it
still got to me. "Hey, hey, hey, hey," this one says, repetitively.
He's not old, maybe mid-thirties. A certain wide-eyed delicate look
under a ragged Yankees cap alerts me that he's not playing with a
full deck. Ever since mental institutions had to release patients
onto the streets, they've shown up in the ER rooms of big cities.
Police get calls about them and have no where else to bring them.
"Hey, hey, hey," he keeps saying, tugging at me. I can't hear a damn
thing in the trauma room, and try to brush him off -- gently.
Just then a big guy, a nurse, comes over to get hold of the man's
elbow and lead him away. "Come with me, Ed. Your room is over
here." Ed must be a regular. And with the distraction gone, I can
finally hear the conversation �- and wish I hadn't. It doesn't sound
good, not good at all. Candy's blood pressure is bottoming out and
I'm amazed she hasn't coded already. Circling the drain and going
I take two steps back. I need to get out of here. It's unlikely
that Candace Southern will leave ER any way other than shrouded and
toe-tagged, and I'd best go prepare Warren. And Scott. She may not
be dead yet, and surprises can always happen, but given what I just
heard, a little judicious pre-preparation is in order.
When I exit ER back into the hall beyond, I don't see Scott, Logan,
or Warren, and I glance around helplessly until a middle aged man,
short and slender, touches my arm. "Dr. Grey?" He has kind eyes.
"Yes, I'm Jean Grey."
"Scott Summers asked me to look for you." He smiles and offers a
hand. "I'm John McKip, one of the hospital chaplains." I shake the
hand. He isn't wearing a collar, which means he's probably
protestant clergy. My experience with chaplains and social workers
at Grady was a mixed bag. The student chaplains (like student
doctors) were sometimes more trouble than they were worth, but the
clinical supervisors had been saints. If I hadn't been so scared the
night my telepathy had manifested, I might have called Rev. Bennet to
come minister to *me*, for a change. She'd had skin like old leather
under snow-white hair, yellowed dentures, and a quirky sense of
humor, but a heart as big as an Olympic swimming pool. I'd never met
a wiser woman.
Now, Rev. McKip says, "I took Warren to a family room, along with
Candy's mother, who just arrived. I was going to see what I could
I shake my head. "It's not good. Her aorta was nicked and she's
bleeding out faster than they can transfuse her." He nods, able to
guess the rest. It was just a matter of time, and probably not too
much time, either. "Where are the others?"
"Follow me." And he leads me down a short hall between two ER
waiting rooms, past triage to a closed door that he opens in order to
usher me in. The ER family room, for crisis cases. And how many of
these have I seen? But always on the other side: to give news, not
wait to hear it.
An elegant, older woman looks up. When she sees me, she pops to her
feet and runs over to clutch at my arm. I wince as much as the
strength of her grip as at the need to block out her overwhelming
fear. "Doctor, how is she?" she asks.
Scott has followed, right on her heels -� as if he knows. And maybe
he does, maybe he can feel the anxiety that I've been suppressing, my
fear that I can't maintain my shields. He pulls the woman away and
says, softly, "Jean's a friend of Warren's and mine, Mrs. Southern.
She came along at our request. She's not the doctor caring for
"Oh." The woman's face falls and she wanders back to sit down on the
couch, shoulders bent with the weight of a grief that I've seen too
much of in hospital work. The utter shock of sudden trauma.
Warren's in no better shape. Scott's just suppressing it; he's
appointed himself to be the strong one. Now, he studies my face as
the chaplain goes to sit next to Mrs. Southern and hold her hand.
Light spills yellow from lamps on end tables �- none of the
nerve-irritating glare of overhead flourescents. Warren is alone at
the little table in one corner, his body bent over his knees, his
head in his hands. There is a box of institutional tissues on the
tabletop in front of him, and cup of coffee. Logan, who I'd almost
not noticed, stands off in a corner, arms crossed, as if he is needed
to hold up the wall. The chaplain quietly asks Mrs. Southern if
there is anyone else to notify.
"Well?" Scott whispers to me.
I wasn't sure I could do it, I wasn't sure I had the skill yet, but I
laid a hand on his arm and REACHED, mentally. *It's just a matter of
time, I'm afraid. The aorta was nicked. She's bleeding too fast and
her blood pressure is bottoming out. We can hope -� but it sounded
He looks away and his jaw works a moment, but he nods sharply. He
doesn't move his arm from beneath my hand, and I'm not sure why I
chose to bespeak him instead of whispering. But I'd needed it, I'd
needed to feel the solidity of his mind, like bedrock. My eyes flash
across the room to Logan, who is watching the two of us rather than
Warren, the chaplain, or the mother. I shake my head faintly and
know he understands what I'm telling him. His chin goes up and he
shifts his weight as if accepting a burden.
At that moment, the door bursts open and a middle-aged man enters,
all command, all anger. It radiates out of him. "What happened to
my daughter? Why was Candy at Warren's warehouse in the first damn
place? And what idiot ambulance driver brought her *here* to this
*Oh, just great*, I pick up from Scott's mind, but I don't need the
commentary to recognize the type. This is a man used to getting his
"As soon as she's out of ER," her father continues, "I want her
transferred to a better hospital �- one in a part of the city I'm not
afraid to drive through in daylight!"
"Bigot," Scott mutters, but loud enough to be sure he is overheard.
Irritated with his attitude, I squeeze his forearm. He wasn't very
happy to drive down here earlier, either.
And luckily, the man ignores him to focus on me in medical white.
"You're the doctor?" He doesn't give me a chance to decline before
launching in. "Be sure to have all her medical records in order; our
family physician is taking over direction of her care as soon as he
Warren stands up, and even without the wingspan behind him, he's
impressive. This is a side of him I haven't seen �- the authority
and prestige of old money. "Darren, Jean's not Candy's doctor.
She's just a friend. As for why Candy was brought here -� it was the
closest hospital with a class A trauma center. Would you really want
them to waste time �- at rush hour -� getting her to a hospital
uptown? Or did you want them to save her life?"
Her father's jaw works and I hold my breath. My eyes slide to Scott.
*And what happens if they don't save her life?* They're not likely
to. It has nothing to do with skill, but a matter of timing and
chance. Yet the anger in this man worries me. It's the spoiled kind
that seeks to lay blame, not the white anger of rage on behalf of
others, like Scott's earlier.
*We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, Jean,* he sends back.
Almost without thinking, I slide my palm down from his arm into his
own hand and he squeezes, reassuringly. He's not afraid of Candy's
father. Then again, I don't think Scott Summers is afraid of much,
unless it's losing control of himself. *I'm sure this wouldn't be the
first time the doctors here have had to deal with an unreasonable
family member,* he adds.
I almost laugh at that. *I'm sure it's not, too.*
As if on cue, Chaplain McKip has come over to introduce himself and
lead the man over to join his wife -� or ex-wife, I'm not sure which.
He responds to the man's pain, not his anger. "I know it's
frightening to be out of control when it's your child, and you can't
do anything but wait." He doesn't add, But the doctors are doing all
they can. It's not about what the doctors can do. It's about fear.
Warren is watching, his jaw working. His eyes are red from tears and
he looks as helpless as Candy's father. I leave Scott to go to him,
put an arm around him and sit him back down, kneel on the floor
beside the chair. Scott has approached, too. I half-expect jealousy
from him, but don't find any. This moment goes beyond anything so
trivial as sexual rivalry.
Warren is clinging to my hands; his grip is very strong and his skin
is cold from shock. "She was down there because I asked her to go.
It was supposed to be me there this afternoon, Jeannie. It should
have been me."
"You didn't know," Scott tells him, pulling around a second chair to
Warren's other side. "You couldn't know. It was chance, Warren.
"And that's supposed to make me feel better?" Warren snarls, head
half-turned towards Scott.
"I'm not trying to make you feel better. I'm trying to keep you from
kicking yourself for something over which you had no control."
"Yeah. Like you're such an expert?"
"I am." The tone of his voice is full of a self-depreciating humor.
"I'm an expert in doing exactly what you're doing. I recognize the
signs, old friend." He nudges Warren. "Do as I say, don't do as I
do. And leave the blame on the right shoulders. Which aren't
"God, Scott -� if Candy dies . . . . " And he breaks down again.
With a glance at me, Scott puts an arm about Warren's shoulders,
pulling him out of my grip to hug him hard with all the strength he
can manage. Gentleness isn't always what's needed, and sometimes
pain needs to be beaten out. "We'll find the asshole who set that
bomb," Scott says softly, so the others in the room can't hear. "I
*promise* you." Held up by Scott's strength, Warren sobs. I feel a
presence at my back and glance around to find Logan.
He kneels down. "How you holding up?" I know he's not asking about
my physical condition.
"I'm all right." Then I added, "Thank you," because I'd been unduly
sharp. He just nods and pats my shoulder, then fades again into the
background. Yet I feel better, reminded of his presence. Like
Scott, Logan is fundamentally grounded.
And now . . . it's just the wait. I don't think it will be a long
one, but that's the whole nature of waiting �- one doesn't know. The
chaplain has disappeared to bring Candy's parents some coffee.
Someone else arrives, an aunt, I think, but related to which parent
I'm not sure. The room has polarized into The Family and The
Boyfriend. Darren Southern glares over at Warren from time to time,
but Warren's so shaky and dazed, he doesn't notice. Scott does. We
trade a look. *He could be trouble,* Scott sends.
*I know. But you said something earlier about crossing bridges . . .
He grins, short and brief. And it's only then that I realize we've
just spoken to each other without touching. I've never been able to
do that with anyone but the professor. I wonder if it's because
Scott has latent telepathic talent, or because he's spent years with
the professor . . . or if there's some other reason �- that natural
connection we felt from the outset. I'm reminded again of the
strange telepathic cry of a few evenings ago that I'd dismissed as a
figment of my imagination. *JEAN.* A cry of pain. *Had* it been
imagination? And what was it about Scott Summers that drew me? On
the face of it, we were so very different -� in backgrounds, in
interests. Why was he so comfortable? Why did I understand him so
well? It made no logical sense, and that bugged the hell out of the
scientist in me.
Abruptly, the door opens. All of us jump (except maybe Logan). It's
another doctor, also a woman, the main attending whose voice I'd
heard earlier in the trauma room. She's not a great deal older than
me -� late thirties maybe �- and not tall. She's also black, or
black-Hispanic mix. Three strikes against her right there, with this
family: young, female and a minority.
And I know just from looking at her face what news she's bringing.
*Candy's dead, isn't she?*, Scott sends.
I just nod, and without even thinking, rise to go stand beside my
occupational sister. Solidarity in potential crisis. What she has
to say is never easy news to bring.
Candy's parents have both approached, while the chaplain stands
behind, the aunt off to one side. They know the truth, too �- they
can feel it: a weight of palpable gloom that leeches all warmth from
the very air. Sound falls dull, heavy, and it's hard to breathe.
"You're Mr. and Mrs. Southern?" the doctor asks.
"Yes," the mother says, face beginning to crumple like an old rag,
damp and used.
The doctor glances down and I feel her grief and anger. We're
charged with saving lives, and when we lose that battle . . . it's
personal. I know the name of every patient I've lost. Every one. I
felt the pang of each, even if it wasn't in my head like the last. I
still felt it in my gut and my heart and in the burn behind my eyes.
Instinctively, I reach out now with my mind �- no more than a brush,
a quick offer of strength to the other doctor.
And to the parents?
They need it, too. I recall how the chaplain spoke to her father:
responding to the fear, not the anger. And I think on what old Rev.
Bennet might have done. So I reach out to them, as well. I send
them . . . something. A breath of calm, a touch of shared sorrow.
Not to influence. Simply to be with them.
Scott has come to stand at my back. I think he knows what I'm doing.
I think he might even approve.
"I'm sorry," the doctor is saying. "Her aorta was nicked in the
accident, and on an artery like that, her own blood pressure tore it
worse. We tried to transfuse, keep her fluid level up so we could
seal it off. But in the end, it just wasn't possible." A pause,
then she says again, "I'm so sorry."
The mother has put both hands over her mouth, and her body twists a
little to curl in on itself. She sinks down as her eyes squeeze
shut. Close it out, close it out. The father, Darren Southern,
looks as if he's taken a direct hit to the chest, right through the
heart. Whatever else I may think about these two, they've lost their
daughter. Parents shouldn't have to bury their children.
The aunt is sitting next to the mother on the floor, rocking her, and
the chaplain has hold of the father, steering him back to a chair.
The man moves like a zombie. The doctor follows; she'll explain
further, though I doubt either parent is in any shape to hear and
understand. But grief demands information, as if by knowing more,
the awful truth can somehow be denied, or changed. Scott has left me
to return to Warren. Of the three closest to Candy, I think Warren
was the most prepared. He'd seen them bring her out. It was more
real for him.
I debate. Where should I go? My previous training and experience
would have me join my fellow physician, fall back into the security
of privileged knowledge -� raise it like a shield in front of me.
Life hurts less when you live amputated at the neck.
But I look across at Logan, and his eyes meet mine. His great
strength lies not in his intellect, or in that amazing body with its
regenerative capabilities. It's in the heart. In the compassion he
can still feel for others �- including one terrified, lost woman �-
despite everything that's been done to him. And I know that I want
to learn that strength. But I must risk, to do it. I must risk
getting hurt. I must risk feeling the pain of those I love. It
would be easier to join the ones I don't know, where I can hide in
But I don't. I turn and join the ones I do know. This is my place.
And these are my people. They need me.
Continued directly in Traumas II, 2/2 . . . .
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