Claire took a deep breath to calm herself.
She was standing alone in a small, anteroom, waiting to go in. The quiet room was dimly lit, with no windows or furniture. Claire looked at the closed double doors in front of her, knowing full well what was beyond them, the meeting of the hospital board where Trevor's case was being reviewed. It was quiet in the small space where she was however, and she began to slowly pace back and forth.
Claire gripped the case notes she was carrying more tightly to her body, trying to quell her nervousness. Taking a deep breath, she reached out and grabbed each of the door handles. She swung them both confidently open, stepping into the white, brightly lit room beyond.
As she silently walked forward, Claire recognized the place instantly. Memories of being there before passed fondly through her mind, remembering the day the board had first assigned Trevor Hale to her reluctant supervision. The same wide windows lined the wall to the right, glowing with the diffuse white light of the cold, overcast sky outside, a sky that had been threatening snow for days. It's soft, ambient glow bathed the unexpected and large crowd of people who were filling the seats. Looking to the front of the room, she saw the same review board that had released him before, now hearing testimony to put Trevor back into the hospital. They were seated at a long bench facing everyone else, like judges in a court room. Like Trevor was on trial here. Claire couldn't help but smile when she saw the wooden inscription over the 'judges' heads, right where it had always been.
AND LOVE SHALL MAKE THE EARTH TREMOR
AS IT IS REBORN IN A STORM OF FIRE AND HAIL
Claire looked at the words at the end of either line, one above the other, 'TREMOR' and 'HAIL', her face brightening as she remembered how Trevor had decided on his new name. At a small desk in front of the audience chairs, Trevor sat at Richard's side, both looking at the man standing at the podium in front of the room as he addressed the review board. Trevor didn't turn around as Claire entered.
Everyone had their attention on the man who was speaking, listening quietly. Spectators and interested parties, most from the hospital itself, filled the seats at the back of the room, a rarity for hearings such as this. Claire recognized several people seated there. Jaclyn was seated near the aisle. Dr. Greeley was listening intently from the back, lost in his own thoughts. Claire paused, suddenly worried when she saw Glenda sitting along the back wall, the woman who had tried to prove allegations of a relationship between her and Trevor. What was she doing there? Had Richard called her to testify?
Having heard her approach, Jaclyn turned around, giving Claire a nervous smile as she scooted over to give her a seat. With one last worried look over at Glenda, wondering what she was doing there, Claire moved over and joined Jaclyn. Looking to Jaclyn's other side, she saw Dr. Hazerman sitting there too, making Claire smile that he had come. The thought made her look up, eyes moving slowly across the room, suddenly struck at just how many people had come to care about what happened to this run of the mill delusional out-patient named Trevor Hale. He had made so many friends since he had been there. That said a lot about him.
Dr. Frechette was the man at the podium, continuing his presentation in his calm, aloof voice, testifying to his own experiences with Trevor.
"During the short time that I was allowed to treat the subject, against my better judgment I dutifully followed the conventional forms of therapy that Doctors Allen and Dehnt subsequently continued with. I even resorted to regression hypnosis in hopes of gaining some insight into the trauma that Mr. Hale is hiding, searching for the core of his delusion. Unfortunately I made no progress... just like Doctors Allen and Dehnt, I might add, who also failed to achieve any tangible results. Trevor Hale has always show a complete disregard for conventional therapeutic methods. And he has exhibited an unprecedented lack of respect which verges on contempt for the professionals who administer them. Trevor has had his time. He's been given his chance. He's been offered every opportunity to respond to conventional therapy and it hasn't worked. How long are we supposed to wait? What period of time must pass before this review board admits the failure of those methods? I believe that time has come. Therefore, I am here to support Dr. Dehnt's assessment that Mr. Hale be remanded to a psychiatric facility for immediate committal. It's time for a more radical approach to help this patient. Nothing else has shown any tangible results. There has been no progress. In my professional opinion, committal to a secure facility where Mr. Hale can be observed, monitored, and treated around the clock is our best option. And perhaps... the potential use of some of the experimental drugs of which I've been holding clinical trials..."
Dr. Frechette seemed to instantly go on the defensive as he continued. "Now here me out. I have been successful with these drugs in the past, which I don't believe this board has ever fully considered. And I believe they will be immediately beneficial to the treatment of this-"
A woman at the center of the review board leaned wearily forward past the other members to either side of her, trying not to roll her eyes at yet the latest pharmaceutical push from Dr. Frechette. It was his obvious answer to everything, and she had heard it too many times before.
"Thank you, Dr. Frechette. That will be all..."
"But if you would just review my proposal-"
"Thank you, Dr. Frechette." The woman tried to smile politely, but she didn't try that hard.
With one last disapproving look at the board, Dr. Frechette turned away from the podium and walked past the desk where Dr. Dehnt and Trevor were sitting, heading for the benches at the back of the room and back to his seat. Richard looked up as he passed, but his expression remained neutral, keeping his thoughts to himself. Beside him, Trevor sat there silently, looking sullen as he gazed at the empty space before him. He didn't move, didn't react. It was as if all of the fight had left him.
The review board all simultaneously re-arranged the papers before them, searching their notes for the next scheduled speaker in the hearing.
"The members of this board call the next expert, one Dr. Osgood Hazerman, who has requested to speak on Trevor's behalf."
From where she was seated, Claire lifted her head slightly, a little surprised when she heard that name. Looking over, she watched as Dr. Hazerman rose out of his seat, mumbling some indecipherable words of encouragement to Jaclyn as he patted her knee and started to slowly squeeze past. Jaclyn smiled at him, watching as the old man moved past Claire and stepped out into the aisle.
Slowly... very slowly, he made his way towards the front of the room where the podium was. It quickly became evident that it would take a little time for Dr. Hazerman to get there. Several members of the review board waited patiently for him, familiar with Dr. Hazerman's pace of life, so to speak. As the aging doctor made his way forward, nearly past the audience seats now, Claire leaned over to Jaclyn and whispered a question into her ear.
Jaclyn smiled, just as surprised. "First I've heard of it. He's never mentioned it before."
"What did he say to you when he got up?" Claire asked.
"That he was up late last night working on his statement..."
Both women turned and watched as Dr. Osgood Hazerman finally inched his way closer to the desk where Trevor and Richard were sitting. There was already the sound of some fidgeting in the crowd behind him as the aging doctor finally reached the podium. He began to reach for his notes, when he absently remembered that he had forgotten to bring them. Brushing that lapse aside, he coughed and looked up at the review board before him, placing his hands on the empty podium, one small, frail old man in front of that large imposing dais.
"This could take awhile..." Jaclyn sighed.
The review board seemed to agree, leaning back in their chairs for what they expected would be a long, slow, incoherent ramble.
Dr. Hazerman straightened up and spoke. "Esteemed members of the review board. I thank you for hearing my comments and opinions today regarding this important hospital matter."
Everyone in the room pulled up slightly in shock. Dr. Hazerman spoke in a clear, resonant voice that was completely unlike his usual mumbling speech patterns. Claire and Jaclyn's lips dropped a bit as they listened. His concise, polished words carried clearly throughout the surprised room. Intrigued, the review board began to lean forward again.
"Ladies and gentlemen. May I start by saying that it has been my complete privilege and honor to be associated with Trevor Hale, a fine individual that I was introduced to through his friendship with Jaclyn, my assistant. I have come to know Trevor fairly well through his visits to my office, and I believe I have developed some insight into his condition that may be useful, both professionally and personally, to these proceedings. I am therefore pleased to be given the opportunity to address you today on his behalf. My first instance of meeting Mr. Hale was when..."
Claire began to tune him out, smiling, as she thought about all the obvious effort Dr. Hazerman had made practicing his speech, all for Trevor. Not because he was his doctor, but because he was his friend. She leaned back and listened as Dr. Hazerman went into his presentation about his informal conversations with Trevor, giving his assessment of Trevor's sanity and real world viability. Claire smiled quietly to herself, looking down when she saw what he was trying to do, pleased.
Sometime later in the hearing, Dr. Hazerman began to wrap up his remarks. "In conclusion, I must say that Mr. Hale is a warm and giving person. Many people in this room would support me on that count, including several members of this very board. He's occasionally obsessed perhaps with his perceived work, but I'm sure that's no different than any of us. Especially on those occasions when we've spent too many hours at the office and not enough time at home with our families and loved ones. Trevor should not be arbitrarily subjected to every option in the therapeutic panacea, simply because it hasn't been tried yet. We need to look at the individual for that determination. And in looking, there is only one viable conclusion. Trevor Hale is not insane, nor is he dangerous. His self-perceptual problems are just that. Perceptual. And he does not need to be committed. I therefore strongly voice my objection to Dr. Dehnt's rather rash proposal. Perhaps because I can understand how Dr. Dehnt himself, like Trevor, could be considered a work in progress. With good intentions perhaps... but who hasn't been here that long, and still has much to learn. They are both young, and we should give them both the opportunity to do just that... in their own way. I thank you for your time..."
The woman who was heading the board leaned forward again, still a little shocked at the unexpected clarity of the doctor's words. "Umm... Thank you, Dr. Hazerman..."
Dr. Hazerman nodded and turned away from the podium, slowly inching his way back to the benches. There was a slight stir in the crowd, as they thought over the aging doctor's words. At the desk at the front of the room, Richard looked a little annoyed at Dr. Hazerman's light criticism of his lack of experience.
After about a minute, Dr. Hazerman finally made it back to his seat. Once he was seated beside Jaclyn again, he leaned closer to her, mumbling something incomprehensible, but with a question obvious in his eyes.
"You did fine..." Jaclyn laughed softly, as she emphasized the last word. "...OSGOOD."
From his seat at the desk near the front of the room, Trevor turned to look back at Dr. Hazerman, giving him a thumbs up and a small smile. And then his eyes caught Claire's. They looked at each other for a long time across the room, seeing much in the other's eyes. There was obvious feeling in Trevor's face as he drank in the sight of her. And a sadness as well, as if he had already accepted his doom. She wanted to comfort him, to tell him it would be ok, but there was concern on her face. Because deep down, she didn't know if that was true. Trevor said nothing, and she understood exactly what he was feeling, knowing the same longing was probably evident in her eyes too. He finally looked away without saying a word, turning in his chair.
The members of the review board had finished making their notes, now moving on to the next sheet in the proceedings as they all looked up. The woman spoke again.
"And next, a statement from Mr. Hale's previous therapist, Dr. Claire Allen."
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Claire stood up beside Jaclyn, who looked up at her and whispered softly, squeezing her arm.
"Good luck, Claire..."
Resolute, Claire looked at the board before her, and confidently walked forward.
The whole room waited quietly.
Claire had been standing there motionless before the podium for some time. Everyone was hushed as they waited to hear her. Even though she wasn't Trevor's current therapist, Claire still had treated him the longest, and she was the one who most of the people in that room believed knew him the best. She was as close to an expert as they had on Trevor. And despite Dr. Dehnt's earlier hints about some kind of close relationship with Trevor potentially clouding her judgment, they were all waiting to hear what she would say.
Claire swallowed, looking into the eyes of the waiting review board, searching for the words to say. Her eyes were sad, wondering how the world had come to this point.
"Umm, thank you for... for hearing me today. I would like to add my professional observation to these proceedings, and respond to some of the veiled allegations Dr. Dehnt has made about my objectivity on this matter, and my relationship with Trevor Hale..."
Claire paused again. The entire room waited, watching her at the podium. There was a thoughtful expression etched on her face in the cold white light from the windows to her side. Her brown eyes finally looked up, and she allowed herself to speak from her heart.
"Although I no longer serve as Trevor Hale's therapist, no one else in this hospital or this city has as much experience with him as I do. He was my patient for a long time. And I... I grew to know him pretty well. As you may or may not know, I have been involved in a romantic relationship with Dr. Dehnt. A relationship which Trevor Hale himself precipitated himself by the way, which Dr. Dehnt failed to mention earlier in listing all of the so called... 'harmful' acts Trevor has committed. A relationship which has now ended..."
At the desk behind her, Richard sadly lowered his eyes but said nothing.
Claire continued. "It is this failed relationship that I believe has led Dr. Dehnt to come to the unfounded conclusions about Trevor that have brought us all here today. I believe Dr. Dehnt precipitated this proposal due to some perceived slight or sense of romantic rivalry from Trevor, exacerbated by Richard's own lack of progress in Trevor's treatment. It's Richard's jealousy that has brought us all here today. Resulting in an unethical abuse of power, and a blatantly unprofessional display of misconduct. Dr. Dehnt is behaving in a vindictive and spiteful manner in dealing with Trevor's case, solely because he feels threatened by my past with Trevor..."
The crowd murmured softly at the accusations. Claire's eyes were hard, looking down at the podium, feeling angry that they were even forced to be there. She sighed, looking back up at the now intrigued review board and began to present her argument.
It was sometime later in Claire's remarks when a man on the review board leaned forward with a question, a concerned look in his eyes at what Claire was saying.
"Dr. Allen, these are some very serious allegations that you are making here today against Dr. Dehnt. That he's putting his own personal interests ahead of his patient. That he want's Trevor out of the way because he feels he threatens your relationship with him. Do you see no validity in Dr. Dehnt's stated motive? That Mr. Hale has made no progress in conquering his delusion?"
Claire took a breath. "Trevor has shown progress. Just recently, he even recounted his Cupid persona and-"
"Which Dr. Dehnt stated he believes to be a false renunciation," the man interrupted. "Dr. Dehnt feels the delusion is still there, hidden and entrenched."
Claire shook her head. "That doesn't mean he hasn't made progress. A renunciation, even a false one, could be deemed a first step. And Trevor is in no way a threat to himself or any-"
"Did not Mr. Hale physically assault Dr. Dehnt?"
"Striking him when they were in his office, I believe..."
Claire tried to sound reasonable. "Trevor... overreacted. I acknowledge that. But Trevor was understandably upset that Dr. Dehnt was attempting to have him committed even after he had renounced his Cupid-"
"But Mr. Hale did punch him. Despite the circumstances, doesn't that speak to Mr. Hale's ability to function in everyday society?"
Claire argued the point more strongly. "If we locked up every single person who's ever wanted to punch someone, then the streets would be empty! We'd all be behind bars by now. The circumstances that Trevor found himself in could in no way be even remotely considered ordinary, and-"
"Mr. Hale striking his therapist is not the only evidence, Mrs. Allen. Dr. Dehnt has provided various instances where Trevor's personal goals have been detrimental to others. Mr. Hale's interactions with another of Dr. Dehnt's patients for instance, umm, one..." the man searched through his notes for the name. "... Mary Simmons. Dr. Dehnt contends Trevor helped precipitate her breakdown. That his rejection of her led to her violent outbreak where by Trevor was shot. Do you deny that claim?"
Claire's voice was angry. "That's like blaming the victim for the crime!"
The man was more forceful. "MY point... Dr. Allen, is that perhaps this review board made a mistake in it's original judgment. Perhaps we were wrong when we released Trevor Hale in the first place..."
Claire looked at him, expression full of disbelief that he would even suggest that. "I was a doctor on staff here for many years. I have long been held in high regard by this hospital. Or so I thought... And I'm telling you, that Trevor isn't a threat. He has shown progress, he's held a job, he's made friends... He doesn't need to be committed."
"Well that's what we're here to find out, isn't it?" The man's voice softened as he continued. "I know you have strong personal feelings about the patient, Mrs. Allen. And we do take your previous treatment and supervision of Mr. Hale into account. But this review board has always tended to defer to the judgment of the practicing doctor. The therapist who is involved on a daily basis in the patient's treatment and oversight. As of today, that person is Dr. Dehnt. And he has made his assertion based on tangible incidents. All you have offered us here today are vague suspicions as to Dr. Dehnt's true motives. His jealousy of you and Trevor. Do you have any proof to confirm your allegations?"
Claire stuttered, shaking her head. "I--I know that I don't have any tangible proof, but I-"
"Then I suppose the question is... is there any validity to the fears you ascribe to Dr. Dehnt. So I'll ask you straight out, Mrs. Allen." The man paused, feeling uncomfortable. But finally he asked the question. "Are you in love with Trevor Hale?"
There was a deep silence in the room as everyone listened. At her seat, Jaclyn looked worried, her lips thinning into a hard line.
Claire stood there, speechless for a moment, uncertain. She sighed deeply in the quiet. Finally she spoke in a soft voice, pain hidden in her voice at what she had to say. "No... I'm not."
"So why would Dr. Dehnt fear that?" The man looked at Claire for a moment, waiting for her to answer.
Claire looked at him. "Maybe it's easier to blame our own failings on someone else, I don't know. Other than that, you would have to ask him..."
"And yet you maintain that Mr. Hale doesn't need the remedy Dr. Dehnt is seeking. Do you believe that Trevor has truly stopped believing that he is Cupid?"
"I--I have not really had a chance to evaluate the validity of-"
"Perhaps more importantly," the man smiled slightly, amused that he even had to ask. "Do you personally believe he's Cupid, Dr. Allen?"
Another pause in the room. Behind where she stood, Trevor looked up at her from his desk, curious. Several people in the seats behind him shifted slightly, watching. Claire looked at the review board in front of her. She let out a soft, quick exhalation of air, looking down with a small, private smile.
"It always comes back to that, doesn't it? Black and white. Yes or no. Is he Cupid or isn't he..."
Claire seemed thoughtful when she looked back up at the review board. "Crazy part is... it's not as easy a question as it sounds..."
The man who was questioning her pulled back, waiting for her to continue. The room was quiet for several seconds as Claire thought about it.
Her voice took on an air of nostalgia as she spoke, her words soft and quiet, eyes staring ahead in her memories. "When all of us were kids, when we were all young... we never had any trouble believing. Blindly accepting all sort of wonderful, improbable, un-provable things. Without explanation. Without question. Santa Claus. The tooth fairy. White picket fences. Someone for everyone and happily ever after... Fairy tales, basically. We didn't ask how they could be real, we just accepted them. Wanting to believe because... because we wanted to believe in the simple wonder of possibility. That childish sense of amazement not in what's real, but what could be real... if we just believed. But then at some point... we grow up. And somehow we stop believing in anything. Sometimes I wonder what we've lost. That sense of trust... in how truly magical the world around us really is."
She looked back at the review board. "The real issue before us, is not whether Trevor Hale is truly Cupid. It's whether he should be allowed to believe he is. And if we should be allowed to believe it as well. I don't know what Trevor is. I don't know why he claims to be what he claims to be. But maybe it's not black and white. Maybe Trevor's right and the rest of us are wrong. And we're the ones who really have a problem here... Because we've lost that part of ourselves that used to believe. Because we won't even let ourselves imagine anymore..."
Claire seemed distracted, looking away, as if just coming to that realization herself. Finally she looked up at the review board, coming out of her reverie and speaking more professionally. "Trevor's only crime, is that he wants to be something more. More than just another face in the crowd drudging drearily off to work. He hasn't thrown away that sense of wonder. Because he wants to believe again... not necessarily in Cupid, but in true love. And to be the one to bring that to people. That outlook on life is not a threat to himself or to anyone. Or a reason to lock him away. Do I believe Trevor still needs help? Yes... So that maybe someday he'll come to realize that he doesn't need to be Cupid to do all those things. He never did. What Trevor believes, what he's trying to share with us, is not a liability. It's a gift. A gift I think we should gratefully accept... even as we try to help him."
Claire's words trailed off as her sad eyes looked hopefully up at the review board. Everyone in the room was thinking about what she had said, the room quiet around her. Slowly, the woman heading the review board leaned forward, clearly having no further questions.
"Thank you, Dr. Allen..."
Claire nodded, her eyes welling up slightly, wondering if it was enough. Finally she gathered her files off the podium and turned around. Looking at Trevor, she wiped away a worried tear from her eye as discreetly as possible. Smiling, Trevor tried to comfort her as he looked into her face, tried to tell her that no matter what happened, it would be ok. Claire held his gaze for a moment longer, a warmth passing through her, seeing him so close, realizing how much she missed him. She wanted so much to hold him... Instead she found what comfort she could in the gentle pools of his eyes, before looking away, hoping no one had noticed. Slowly she stepped past him, her form outlined against the bright white glare of the windows, footsteps hitting crisply on the floor of the silent room as she walked through the crowd and back to her seat.
The review board had finished hearing all their scheduled witnesses, so their was a feel of anticipation in the air. The board's attention returned to Richard, sitting at the desk beside Trevor.
"Dr. Dehnt... Do you have any further comments too add beyond your original statement before we render our decision?"
Richard rose from his chair, straightening his suit as he did so. "Yes I do... Thank you. As I stated before, by reviewing Trevor's case history, you will note how increasingly antagonistic he grew towards me with every session. Mrs. Allen's claims that I'm reacting to our breakup are totally unfounded. Since it should be obvious to anyone who reads the case record that I made note of my suspicions of Trevor having feelings for Dr. Allen long before my own relationship with her ended. As for Mrs. Simmons, or 'Faith' as she calls herself, she was looking for the god of love, and Trevor heedlessly provided that for her without any regard for her condition. Simply to secure himself yet another bead to get closer to home. Because he didn't care about the consequences. Because her mental welfare obviously wasn't important to him. The harm to her and Mr. Hale is obvious. And finally, may I point out that Trevor has falsely renounced his Cupid persona before. When he was before this very board for the first time, for instance. And also when he told Faith he was no longer Cupid because he no longer needed her, thus precipitating her breakdown. How many times are we going to let him cry wolf? How much more damage must be done before we take action? I believe these facts are clear and incontrovertible. Still, I can understand how..." Richard lowered his eyes. "... how Dr. Allen has developed feelings for her former patient. She's obviously fond of him and does not consider him a threat. But the facts say otherwise. And that is a professional reaction, not an emotional one..." Richard spoke pointedly, "... as we've seen others make here today."
Claire's jaw hardened, but she said nothing.
Richard continued. "Our own personal feelings are really not what's at issue here. What is important is the best interests of the patient. So in conclusion let me say this... The one thing we have failed to do... the one thing none of us has done, is to ask the person who is most directly involved in this matter what he believes should happen next. What does he think should be done in regards to his own treatment? I'm confident that Trevor will support my recommendations. He'll agree with me, that committal is in his own best interests. That's why I call Trevor Hale to speak before you..."
A little surprised, everyone in the room looked over at Trevor, still sitting in his chair, staring blankly ahead, not appearing to notice.
The woman heading the review board tried to get his attention. "Mr. Hale...?"
Trevor already seemed defeated when he finally looked up. There was no hope on his face. Slowly he rose to his feet, moving absently over to the podium in a daze as everyone watched. Richard sat down, confident in what Trevor was going to say.
Trevor quietly stood there at the podium, in front of the review board that was deciding his fate, like a lamb led to the slaughter. His face seemed empty as he looked at them, and he didn't speak.
The board members shifted in their seats, a little impatient. The woman prodded Trevor again. "Mr. Hale, you've been strangely quiet during these proceedings. We have heard nothing from you on what you think should be done. Is there anything you would like to say?"
Trevor still looked at them, not saying a word, his face bleak. Several members of the board exchanged confused looks, wondering if he had heard the question. Finally, his expression not changing, Trevor reached calmly into the pocket of his suit and pulled out a miniature tape recorder.
Claire blinked when she saw it, realizing it wa the object she had seen Trevor putting away when she had chased him down the hallway after he had hit Richard.
Trevor reached forward and pushed play.
The sound of two voices suddenly came out of the small tape recorder. Two male voices. Arguing. Everyone in the room listened to what was being said, the words coming over the sounds of the people in the recording moving around.
Why the hell are you doing this?
Trevor, it's for the best...
You're committing me!?
You're not making any progress. I think that-
Claire's eyebrows lifted, realizing it was Trevor and Richard arguing inside his office. There was a slight stir in the room as everyone began to recognize the voices and the argument on the tape, wondering what it was.
Richard's face went blank for a second as he sat at the desk beside Trevor, not believing what he was hearing. Finally he stood up, his face angry as he faced the board. "Wait a second... Wait. You can't just bring in a random recording into a review board hearing! It has no relevance here. trevor, I don't know what you're doing, but that's enough. I think we should-"
The man who had been questioning Claire so harshly earlier, now slowly raised a silent hand, cutting off Richard without a word. He shifted his attention back to Trevor. "Dr. Dehnt is right. Exactly what is this recording? And what is it's relevance to this hearing?"
Trevor smiled. "The tangible proof you were looking for. How would anyone believe me otherwise? An outpatient arguing against the man treating him? Who has a doctorate to hide behind? This is the proof of what Claire was saying all along. That Dr. Dehnt is doing this because he thinks I'm in the way of their relationship."
Richard was furious. "That is ridiculous! You can't accept that tape into this hearing. Therapy sessions are strictly confidential between the doctor and the patient."
Trevor glared back at Richard, looking a little smug. "I'm the patient, and the one bringing this forward. Confidentiality doesn't apply."
Richard was angry. "It was illegally recorded, and that's not admissible in any-"
The man on the review board smiled. "This isn't a court of law, Dr. Dehnt. We've used tapes from therapy sessions many times before during patient reviews."
Richard seemed flustered. "But I haven't even had a chance to-"
"Continue, Mr. Hale." The man said with finality.
Obviously incensed, Richard straightened his suit and sat back down. Trevor tried his best not to smile as he turned around and pushed play again.
You think Claire's in love with me, and that's the real reason your committing me!
I don't know what you're talking about, Trevor.
Claire blinked, not believing what she was hearing. There was anger in Trevor's words of course, but as she listened to those disembodied voices argue back and forth, it quickly became evident how fast the anger was building up in Richard's voice too. Soon it became hard to tell who was more out of control, the patient or the doctor. on the tape, Richard's anger finally erupted.
Fine! I'll admit it, Trevor! I know what I know. What we both know! Claire's in love with you. So it's time you were out of her life. Haven't you hurt her enough?
Several members of the review board pulled back at that statement, surprised it had come from Dr. Dehnt. They looked over at him, unsettled by his seething words.
His face still angry, Richard stood again and tried to explain. "It's not like that... Look, I can explain. I-..." His voice drifted off, trying to stay calm, not certain what to say. The tape was still playing, and no one was really listening to him anyway.
Trevor was now speaking on the tape, his voice softer, pleading.
She'll never love me. I know that. She doesn't love me, alright? How can I make that any more clear?
Claire looked sadly over at Trevor, wondering if he really felt that way. Trevor's eyes were looking down as he stood at the podium. The tape continued, Trevor still speaking.
Deep down, you know perfectly well that there is no reason for me to be committed.
Do you think I'm stupid, Trevor? Of course I know you don't need to be committed. I know that better than you do...
Concerned looks passed between the members of the review board. The woman who headed the review leaned forward, giving Richard a less than friendly stare.
"Dr. Dehnt, can you explain this?"
Trevor quickly stopped the tape, and the room went silent.
Unsettled, Richard faced her. "Those statements are taken completely out of context. It's only something that was said in the heat of the moment. Trevor obviously set me up and manipulated me into a momentary lapse of judgment. Trevor's wrong, and-"
Trevor smiled, and pushed play again. It was Richard's voice.
You're right, Trevor. I think she's in love with you. And it sickens me. How can she love a smug, arrogant, little psychotic like you?
Pleased, Trevor pushed stop again.
The woman on the review board looked at Richard more sternly. "Dr. Dehnt? That doesn't sound very therapeutic to me..."
"It's not as bad as that. It was one isolated-"
Enjoying himself, Trevor smiled and pushed play on the tape again.
Once you're out of the way, she'll come around....
Claire turned her head and glared coldly at Richard when she heard that.
"That's enough!" Richard's voice was louder. "I lost my temper, ok? I said some things that I regret-"
Trevor broke in, looking at him playfully. "Losing your temper. Tell me, doctor. Is that a professional reaction or an emotional one?"
Richard ignored him, speaking to the board. "I can corroborate a relationship between Trevor and Claire. I have evidence. Mary Simmons will testify to a kiss she saw happen between them and-"
As if anticipating, Trevor was already forwarding the tape and pushing play, cutting into Richard's words with his own taped voice.
I'm not even really sure what Faith claims she saw ever happened...
Richard sputtered. "That's not-"
Trevor happily pushed play again, interrupting. Richard's voice again.
She could be making it all up...
Richard shook his head, almost starting to sound desperate. "Just because I haven't yet established the validity of Faith's statements, doesn't mean that-"
Another forward and play from Trevor.
Whether it's true or not, I'm sure I could get a professional review board to believe her...
"Enough, Trevor!" Richard glared at the board. "None of this proves that I was lying about my assertion. I know that Trevor and Claire are-"
Trevor was almost humming, really enjoying himself. He pushed forward on the tape for a specific length, like he had practiced for some time getting around to the segments he wanted. It was Richard's voice again.
Stay away from her, Trevor. Or... don't. End up in a mental hospital for the rest of your life with Claire's reputation in shambles. But don't kid yourself. I'll do what I have to do. Make up what I have to as long as it gets you out of our lives. Even if it costs Claire her career. So walk away... or get locked up. But either way... I win."
Trevor stopped the playback.
One of the men on the review board grunted, looking at Trevor, obviously displeased with what he was hearing. "I assume... Mr. Hale, this is the point where you punched him?"
Trevor smiled. "How'd you know?"
Glaring even more angrily at Richard, the woman who headed the board sighed in disgust. "Thank you, Mr. Hale. I believe we've heard enough."
Trevor nodded, waiting for whatever was next.
"Look," Richard said softly. "I can explain. I-"
The woman ignored him. "Mr. Hale. Can we see that tape please?"
Playfully, Trevor pretended to look around, as if searching for who she was talking to, before he pointed to himself in surprise. With a confident smile, he walked out from behind the podium, moving closer to the review board as he casually tossed the entire tape recorder towards her. "Here you go, cutie..."
A little surprised, the woman dropped her pen to catch the tape player, startled for a moment, before recovering and setting it down.
As Trevor walked back, Richard was almost speechless. "But, but... Trevor attacked me in my office. He punched me!"
The woman was already writing something down, her eyes lowered as she spoke to herself. "apparently not hard enough..."
Richard stood there, stunned that they weren't listening to him. Not a single member of the board.
"That will be all, Mr. Hale." The woman dismissed him.
Still playing around, Trevor took a slow, overly cautious step away from the podium, before committing to it fully and going back to the desk where Richard was standing. He gave Richard a friendly pat on the back as he passed behind him and took his chair, happily sitting down. He acted like nothing was wrong, smiling as he spoke to himself. "Wow... that wasn't so bad. Went well..."
Richard was still blinking as he stood there, trying to think of what to say next, trying not to give Trevor an angry glare. His voice was cold when he spoke again.
"Trevor and Claire had an extra curricular relationship. I know it. Mary Simmons saw it. She'll confirm what I'm saying...."
The woman heading the board didn't even look at him, writing something down as she spoke. "The tape would seem to indicate otherwise. Believe me, Dr. Dehnt. It would be best if you just stopped right now. You'll be lucky if you don't end up facing suspension, censure, and removal of your license over conduct like this..."
The entire board was writing something into their reports, discussing quietly amongst themselves. Then as a whole, they looked up.
"We've come to our decision..."
The room was quiet, waiting.
"It is the opinion of this board that the question of Trevor Hale's committal to a psychiatric facility... be put on hold for the time being. Until we look into these allegations of misconduct against Dr. Dehnt. We therefore assign Trevor a new therapist for further evaluation, as soon as possible. While this board does still have some serious concerns as to what the future course of Trevor Hale's treatment should be, we feel we must investigate this other matter first before we can honestly judge Dr. Dehnt's proposal. We will be taking Dr. Allen's testimony and Mr. Hale's tape into consideration while we review Dr. Dehnt's actions. And I must say, Dr. Dehnt, that I am deeply disturbed by what I've heard here today. That will be all..."
Everyone rose from their chairs throughout the room, talking at once, trying to sort through all that had just happened. In front of them, the board rose as one and began gathering their things with a few disapproving looks in Richard's direction as they left the room.
Blinking, Claire was still sitting in her chair, smiling, stunned at what Trevor had done.
Jaclyn looked at her, smiling too. "It's over?"
Claire laughed. "For now..."
Richard was putting his things away into a briefcase, fuming silently to himself. Snapping it shut, he turned to leave
without saying a word. Until Trevor called out to him.
"Excuse me... Rich?"
Richard stopped in mid step, before he slowly turned and glared at him.
"I was just wondering..." Trevor smiled pleasantly at him. "How's the lip?"
Richard's eyes were hard. "This isn't over Trevor."
Trevor's face broke into what was the first genuine smile he had felt in a long time. "Yes it is..."
Glaring at Trevor for a long moment, Richard finally turned and walked away, moving towards the back of the room. Trevor seemed pleased as he watched Richard leave. He looked over at Claire and Jaclyn walking up to him as the room started to empty behind them.
Claire still had a look of wonder on her face. "Trevor... that tape. How did--...?"
He smiled at her. "I had some help. A co conspirator. A while back I realized that sometimes it's better to turn enemies into friends. Especially when all they really need is love..."
He nodded towards the back of the room, and Jaclyn and Claire turned to look. Glenda was sitting there, smiling at Trevor. She waved happily at him. A young hospital intern was sitting beside her. Glenda reached out and lovingly took his hand into hers.
Claire couldn't believe it. "Glenda? Glenda helped you? The woman I had fired for breaking into my office trying to prove we were sleeping together?"
"Yeah. She gave me the tape recorder. She's into all that spying stuff, if you remember...."
Claire was sputtering. "But, but... but why would she-..."
"After that little restaurant incident on our double date with Jaclyn and Champ, I thought I should get her on our side. I hooked her up last summer. So sue me. Wait... on second thought I take that back. Someone around here might get some ideas..."
"And that's all it took?" Claire watched as Glenda rose and left with her beau, walking out of the room contently, hand in hand.
"That's all it took..."
Claire turned around and looked at him, amazed. "But if you had that tape all along Trevor, why all the doom and gloom during the hearing. You looked like you had already given up."
He seemed pleased. "I couldn't let Richard get suspicious and stop me before I got up there. Other than that, I was just having some fun messing with Richard's head. Only fair, right?"
Claire nodded, appreciating the sentiment. Something occurred to her, and she looked more subdued. After a moment she lowered her eyes. "Trevor... what I said before, about not-"
Trevor inhaled, looking uncomfortable, ignoring her. "Look, I gotta go. The walls have ears. And they're bored as hell. I'll..." His eyes were soft as he looked at her. "I'll see you later, Claire."
Saying nothing more, he headed for the back of the room. He was stopped for a moment, congratulated by a few friends who hadn't left yet. But then he walked out, not looking back.
Claire watched him leave, and she finally let out a relieved breath, looking around at the quickly emptying room. Jaclyn came up to her. "So it's really over..."
Claire smiled, watching Trevor move out of sight. "For the moment, anyway..."
Jaclyn looked hopeful. "Claire... you do realize that now there's nothing really keeping you and Trevor apart... You're not with Frank. He's not with anyone... And you're not even his doctor anymore..."
Claire looked a little worried. "Trevor did punch his therapist. The review board won't forget that. Whoever Trevor's new doctor is will have to decide if he should be committed..."
"But that doesn't mean you can't be with him, Claire. I have hope..." she smiled when Claire looked over, not understanding. Jaclyn continued. "... that maybe you'll start to believe in happily ever after again..."
Touched, Claire leaned forward to hug her, grateful for the sentiment, but obviously not quite as certain of that yet. After a few moments, Jaclyn pulled back, and Claire smiled at her. "I'll see you tonight, Jaclyn. Maybe we can all celebrate..."
"Sure. Bye, Claire."
Claire watched Jaclyn leave, and before she knew it, Dr. Greeley was standing right there behind her. Claire jumped a little, trying to calm herself, wondering how much he had heard.
"Dr. Greeley, I didn't see you there..."
He gave her a sympathetic smile. "I can see it in your eyes, Claire."
He looked at the empty bench where the review board had been seated. "That all this is just put on hold. Until he gets an assessment from his new therapist. And I think you know..." Dr. Greeley didn't sound very confident, "... that at some point Trevor's going to have to face this room again..."
"I know..." Claire looked sadly at those empty seats. "But whenever that happens... there will always be someone here to defend him..."
"I bet there will be..." Greeley chuckled softly as he turned to look at her. "The hospital misses you, Claire."
"Thank you." She smiled at him.
Dr. Greeley nodded, pulling on the overcoat he had been carrying over his arm, and leaving the room.
Claire was alone in that quiet space, looking up at the podium. Looking at the inscription on the wall.
"And love shall make the earth tremor..." she said softly, smiling.
Finally Claire sighed, not certain what the future would bring. But for the moment, she allowed herself a little bit of hope. Pleased, she whispered softly to herself. "Yes..."
Claire finally turned and walked away, leaving the now empty room behind.