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something from the archives: another sunset - part 4

and the story continues after the jump...




Part 4

Doctors have this way about them as they walk the halls of hospitals in white lab coats and bejeweled in stethoscopes. They lend the institution the age-old dignity that the walls and activity never manage to achieve. They are the all-knowing. They hold lives in their grip, or rather they hold a scalpel, but still, they have the know-how necessary to extend the seconds of time left on life’s clock. 

Doctors Leilani Torino and Jesse Grant were very curious. They’d never treated a case of amnesia before. And they were excited about it. Imagining glory as they tried new and torturous procedures to figure out the inner workings of the brain. They were sure that the other was wrong and surer still that they were right. Arrogant and sharp, their compassion marred by ambition, they were riding the coattails of grief to reach the fame they’d always dreamed of.

Doctor Torino was an elegant woman in her mid-forties, her dark hair and hard eyes a contrast of sensuality and intelligence. It had taken her a long while to get where she was. Years of hard work. And now she had to deal with an upstart. She was the renowned neurosurgeon who had taken care of Liz when she’d been brought into the ER. 

Doctor Jesse Grant was in his mid-thirties. His handsome face less lined and remarkably friendly. His ascent hadn’t proved to be quite so difficult. A wealthy man and charming. He was the kind of guy you told things you never meant to say. Which was a quality that had proved useful to him when he specialized in psychiatry. 

They walked down the hallway to poke and prod and question their case, each arguing over which method was most appropriate. Torino was sure that there was no need for the shrink to be there. But Grant was just as sure that there was no need for MRIs and CAT scans. "Traumatic events had led to the patient’s memory loss." 

"Traumatic blows to the head," responded Torino. 

The truth was, of course, that neither of them had an explanation. They didn’t know. Perhaps both things. Perhaps just one. The blood flow to the brain might have been momentarily cut off and memory cells might have suffered some damage. The loss of memory is a psychosomatic reaction to the incredible loss Ms. Parker experienced. Her mind needs time to process the grief, and as a result it has created a clean slate for her to heal in. It will come back to her when she is ready. 

Liz watched as the doctors volleyed biting remarks among themselves. She didn’t want to stay at the hospital a moment more than necessary. She would not become some case study for med students. Alex looked just as horrified as she felt. And she was happy to realize that he felt the same way she did. 

"My sister and I thank you for your concern, but we have made other arrangements for her care."

"Excuse me? I am not discharging her."

"You may take the CAT scans and the MRIs. There is nothing wrong with her head. She will come home tomorrow. We’ve arranged for special medical care there."

"But…" the doctors protested.

Firmly Alex responded, "I think the healthiest environment for my sister will be at home, with things that she will come to find familiar. Now if you’ll excuse us, my sister and I are tired. We need to rest."

Alex ushered the speechless doctors from the room within two minutes. They’d forgotten that their patients were people, with valid thoughts and opinions. And that in the end, it is the patient who pays the bill. The patient isn’t there for the doctor’s needs, but for his or her own. The patient pays for service. And Alex and Liz were already sick of the service.

Elizabeth smiled gratefully at Alex once he'd returned to her side, "Thank you. Did you mean all that? You’ve arranged care and all?"

He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, "Well I sort of made that up. But I think Michael can help us out, he works here."

"Help out how?" Michael asked as he caught the tail end of what Alex was saying. He’d just finished up his shift. And was exhausted. But it was the kind of exhaustion that felt worthwhile. Michael was more sure than ever before that he would study medicine. Once he finished up the semester at Garwood he’d have to make major life decisions anyway. And having decided on one of them made him feel like he had some direction in his life. 

Although the only direction he was sure he was heading into was heartache. With a girl who couldn’t even remember her name. He was ten times an idiot. But Michael knew he was in love. 

"Taking care of Liz."

Michael frowned, "I’m not a doctor. I’m not even a nurse."

"Michael." It was Liz who spoke. Her quiet voice asking to be heard. Michael closed his eyes briefly. He knew that he would lose this battle. Because he wanted to take of Liz. He wanted to be there for her always. And he was an idiot. He didn’t say anything. He barely even listened. 

"I feel comfortable around you. I’m already surrounded by strangers. I just want to feel safe. Please." she begged him.

Groaning he replied, "How can I say no?"

Alex shook his hand with relief shining in his eyes, "Thank you, man. Kyle always said you were the one decent player at Garwood. Now I know he’s right." 

"No problem. When are you getting her out?"

"As soon as the MRI and CAT scans come out clear. Which shouldn’t take long, considering."

"Considering what?"

"That I feel fine." 

Michael looked at Alex and Liz. It was obvious that the awkwardness evident between them when he’d left was no more. He felt like a third wheel. Like an intruder. Or even worse an ambulance chaser. 

"Oh. That’s good then. So I’ll head out and leave you guys alone. To catch up and all."

Alex noted the uneasiness on Michael’s face and the sudden flash of hurt in his sister’s face. And he knew what he’d have to do. For some reason, Michael Guerin was whom his baby sister wanted to be with. And right now he was in a placating mood. 

Besides he wouldn’t mind the chance to go over to Maria’s and tell her everything that was going on. They’d spent nearly three days in the waiting room. Hoping for a miracle. They’d gotten it all right, but true to custom a watched pot never boiled and Liz didn’t wake up until they had taken a break from it all.

"Actually Michael, would you mind staying with Elizabeth? I don’t want to leave her alone, but I should go tell Maria what’s going on or she’ll never forgive me."

Michael was stunned. He’d thought for sure that Alex wouldn’t want him anywhere near his sister except for medical stuff. And he was surprised by the formality by which Alex spoke of her. He’d called her Elizabeth. What exactly did that mean?

"Sure. That is if you want me to stay?" Michael asked Liz. 

"Please. I’ll sleep better knowing that you’re here with me."

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