Claire breathlessly flung open the emergency room doors, already on the verge of tears. She ran across the well lit room, her eyes frantic. The white walls and floor seemed to shake chaotically around her as she ran. She made her way through the haze of nameless faces and finally reached the reception area. Her voice was fast and nervous, almost indecipherable.
"Excuse me! You brought in a patient. A man--A man named Trevor Hale! Please, he was shot tonight. Could you--please, if you have anything on him--oh god, let him be alright--If you have anything on him--Do you know where he is? Anything? Is Trevor Hale here?"
The nurse at the reception desk tried to make sense of her quick stream of words. She could tell Claire had been crying all the way up there. "Please, Ma'am. Calm down. Did you say the name was Trevor Hale?"
"Yes, Trevor Hale." Claire's eyes glittered with concern, waiting anxiously.
The nurse checked her computer, calmly typing in the name. "Trevor Hale... Yes. He was brought in a few minutes ago."
Claire pulled back. For a while she had secretly hoped it wasn't true, that it was some sort of mistake when Champ had called. "What? Where is he? What happened to him? Can I see him?"
The nurse looked at Claire sadly. "Mr. Hale suffered a gun shot wound to the chest. He's in surgery right now." She nodded towards the emergency room doors, before lowering her eyes in sympathy. "I'm afraid only surgical personnel are allowed inside. I'm sorry, but... right now it's still touch and go."
Claire's face seemed frozen... and she exhaled softly. So many feelings flowed over her features in that moment, fear, anguish, shock. She didn't know what to say. Or even what to ask, not knowing what else to do. Staring numbly at the nurse, her eyes glittered silently. Finally she breathed in. It was all true. It was all real, all really happening, right now. Still looking blankly at the nurse, she slowly stepped back from the desk between them.
Claire turned and left the nurse's station, walking reluctantly towards the doors of the surgical bay, trying her best to find the strength not to fall apart on the spot.
The two small windows in the swinging emergency room doors approached her soundlessly... slowly... waiting for her like some sort of doom hovered on the other side. Silently Claire looked in, watching the swarm of activity in the surgery bay beyond.
Trevor was dying.
Doctors and surgeons were everywhere, moving quickly back and forth, all masked and in scrubs. A forgotten metal tray of surgical sponges lay pushed aside, flushed red with blood. She watched the surgeons clustered around the main table, their hands working out of sight as large round lights hovered over them. Then two of the surgeons parted, and she saw Trevor's face, halting her breath. His eyes were closed, a respirator tube shoved down his throat, his body hooked up to several machines. He was unconscious, but she could still see a single tear, falling down from the corner of his eye.
Claire's lip quivered, almost too small to see. As she watched him there, she breathed in deeply. Her eyes moistened over even more, watching him in desperation. Seeing him hooked up to all those machines, motionless and pale as a marble statue, as all the surgeons worked desperately to save his life. A clear tube snaked away from the table, flowing red with blood. Trevor's blood, sucked away to give the surgeons room to work. Claire realized she was not looking at just some colored liquid. It was Trevor's blood. The blood of a real person she cared about. She closed her eyes again, gasping softly, and the moisture gathering in her eyes finally broke, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. Her world seemed to shatter around her.
"Don't die, Trevor. Please don't die..."
There was the sound of footsteps behind her. Claire turned around, not bothering to wipe the tears from her face. It was Champ, looking at her sadly. She glanced down at Champ's shirt, recognizing the small stains on it. Trevor's blood. Champ was silent, not knowing what to say, but knowing what they both were feeling in that moment. Against all that, what words could matter?
"Claire... I-" he began.
Her face suddenly crumbled and she rushed into Champ's arms, crying as he held her. She couldn't hold it in anymore. The emotions finally poured out of her like a cold rain, muffled as she sobbed against Champ's shoulder. The world spun around her. He rocked her gently in his arms, trying to comfort her. But there were tears in his eyes too.
"He's going to make it, Claire. I know he will. Trevor's not finished yet..."
Claire cried into Champ's shoulder, just wanting so much to wake up from all of this. Both of them were standing in the middle of the floor as other people walked by. The hallway stretched in either direction, filled with hospital workers going about their business, or with visitors wearing concerned faces. It was a busy night. But the two of them stood there alone, crying softly as they held each other, stationary amid the chaos.
It was sometime later and Claire was walking alone. They were still working on Trevor, and she had heard no news. Her crying had stropped for now, but not the ache in her chest, or the ache in her heart. She felt lost, empty. Like she was drifting aimlessly on a sea of her own tears. Gazing blankly ahead, she wasn't even sure where she was going, just walking, moving more out of habit than awareness. The air felt cool on her cheeks, her tears still drying there, as she walked down the bright, antiseptic hallway of the hospital.
She paused, looking absently over to the open doorway to her left. It's wide double doors were wedged open to either side, and no one else was around. A small room stretched beyond, quiet and serene. Rows and rows of benches made of dark polished wood filled the interior. Rows and rows of empty seats, for a small hospital chapel.
Claire looked either way down the hallway to see if anyone was watching her, but she was alone. She thought for a moment. Then, reluctantly, she finally turned and walked slowly inside.
The floor was carpeted under each of Claire's soft steps, as she slowly moved down the center aisle. As her eyes looked sadly at the room around her, the effects of her earlier crying were still visible on her face. The air was motionless, calm, tinged with the waxy smell of candles. The chapel itself was small. A few rows of seats, bathed in much warmer colors than the bright lighting in the hospital corridor outside.
She continued to walk forward, looking sadly at the silent rows all around, sliding gently by on either side. Finally she reached the front of the chapel. Still preoccupied with her grief, her eyes absently looked up.
The back wall was a stained glass window, glowing softly, lit by a light outside the hospital, shining in the rain soaked night. She could see the shadows of raindrops on the glass, falling silently between the colored panes and the light outside. Looking to one side she noticed that a crucifix hung above her, suspended in the air over a pulpit. She gazed up at it for a long time, tears coming to her eyes again.
She kept seeing Trevor there. On that operating room table. She kept seeing that one tear falling down his cheek. Lowering her face into her palms, Claire began to sob softly, her shoulders shaking. The small sound of her helpless crying was soft in the empty chapel.
Claire finally lifted her head, wiping the moisture off her face. She looked up again, squinting with grief as she breathed in deeply, scared beyond belief. Scared of what was going to happen. She couldn't lose Trevor. She couldn't. Not now. Not now when... when it almost seemed that she had just barely found him. He meant too much to her. Suddenly she remembered being in Trevor's arms. Feeling his lips on hers when he had kissed her out of the blue in front of her office. Remembered feeling herself give in to that kiss for one fleeting moment. And give in to herself. She had wanted so much in that moment to hold him, to caress his face.... but she hadn't. She hadn't dared. She didn't have the courage. And now it seemed that she would never get that chance again, the chance that she hadn't known she had lost. And for what? What reason was worth it? She could almost still feel him there on her lips, and her face crumbled, the tears coming again. She wanted Trevor back. She needed him back.
Claire gasped, eyes sparkling with grief as she looked up. She wasn't a very religious person. She hadn't been to church for longer than she cared to remember. She was always so pre-occupied with her book, her patients, her career. Besides, she had never been certain that she really even believed in this stuff, not on any rational level. But now she did something she hadn't done in years. She fell silently to her knees in the aisle... and prayed.
A tear fell down her cheek as she looked up, her voice full of despair. "Please, god... Please not Trevor. Don't take him away from me. Please... not now. Don't take him away..."
Claire lowered her head, crying. The row upon row of empty benches stretched silently around her. Silent as Claire knelt there, feeling so small... and alone.
Later, Claire was standing beside Trevor's bed in the darkened ICU, his surgery over. He was unconscious. Champ was there too, holding Jaclyn in his arms. They all faced the doctor in front of them. The doctor was talking, or at least so Claire assumed because his lips were moving. But she didn't really hear him as she stared blankly ahead, feeling empty. Like no part of her was even there anymore, still in shock from all that had happened.
The doctor's voice was soft as he continued.
"Basically Mr. Hale keeps falling in and out of a partial coma, and he's never regained consciousness. He's stabilized for now, but to be honest, that's hour to hour. He doesn't seem to be responding to any external stimuli... and he doesn't seem aware that anyone else is present in the room with him. But there is still some definite cognitive functioning registering. The, uhhh... bullet fractured a rib at the entry point, causing a shard which partially punctured a lung. The projectile itself grazed the heart. He lost a tremendous amount of blood because the bullet passing right through him. Anyone else would have died from that amount of blood loss alone. But Mr. Hale has a tremendous metabolism. I can't explain it. There was also some concern because the exit wound seemed dangerously close to the spinal column. One of the lower vertebrae was... chipped, but it's still to early to tell if there was any neurological damage as a result. He apparently broke his ankle as well in the fall down the stairs, and there are signs of--"
Claire began to tune him out, staring blankly ahead. She stared at nothing, almost feeling nothing, as if she had emptied herself of all feeling. Somehow the world went on, but it was ignored around her. Everything else... just felt so small. So inconsequential. Like it was all shrinking slowly towards her, leaving only her, and her stunned face. The sound of the doctor's voice, the monotone sound of Trevor's heart monitor beeping beside his bed, everything else... faded away to silence. Still staring at one insignificant spot in the air in front of her, Claire heard a high pitched hum. A distant, shrill buzz, like listening intently in a totally quiet room. Or listening to a dead phone line... like nothing meant anything anymore. Suddenly, there was an echo of a whisper, Trevor clear in her mind.
Claire jerked her head up, coming back to awareness. The doctor was still talking, but he paused, looking at her, confused by why she had jumped. Champ and Jaclyn were looking at her too. None of them had spoken to her.
"Sorry..." Claire said softly. "Sorry. Go on...." she told the doctor.
The doctor nodded. "I'm... afraid there's not much more to tell right now. He's stable, and we're keeping him under observation. We have some more procedures scheduled for the morning." The doctor waited patiently.
Claire finally noticed him waiting, and she looked up at him. "Yes..?"
The doctor stepped towards her. "I was wondering, Dr. Allen... You said you were his therapist. Is there any family that we should contact?"
Claire looked at the doctor for a moment, not sure how to answer. Does Olympus have a home number? Then... she knew, and she looked over at Trevor lying there.
"We're his family...."
The doctor seemed to understand, not pressing further.
Finally Claire nodded at him again. "Thank you, Dr. Raens..."
The doctor lowered his eyes and turned away, wearily removing the surgery cap from his head as he walked away, quietly leaving the three of them there with Trevor. Claire walked over to Trevor's bedside, the only sound the soft beeping of Trevor's heart monitor. She looked down at Trevor's face, wondering how... when it had become so dear to her. His eyes were closed, for all the world like he was just in some restful sleep.
Champ and Jaclyn walked over to stand beside the bed as well, across from her. They were all silent for a moment, when Champ finally spoke, lifting his head.
"Claire, there's something I've been meaning to ask you..."
Claire finally looked away from Trevor, turning to Champ. "What is it?"
"Well..." Champ looked at her. "Right after Trevor was shot. He kept mumbling something in Latin. I didn't know what he was saying. It was Quos deus vult perdere prius dementiat. He kept saying it over and over again. Do you know what it means?"
"Yes." Claire looked sadly at Trevor, laying there unconscious in his hospital bed, laying there after Faith had shot him. Trevor. Faith. She wondered which one of them he had been referring to. "It means... Those whom gods wish to destroy, they first drive mad..."
Champ nodded, before holding Jaclyn a little tighter in his arms. Jaclyn's eyes were misty, looking down at Trevor. Champ noticed, and softly kissed her forehead.
Claire looked over at the two of them comforting each other on the far side of the bed, silent for a few seconds. She was alone on her side. Finally she spoke.
"Could I have a little time alone with Trevor?"
Champ and Jaclyn blinked, looking over at her. "Sure, Claire..." Jaclyn said with a soft breath, concern in her eyes but holding it in. "Come on Champ, lets go buy me a cup of coffee..." Champ nodded. With one last glance at Trevor, they both walked quietly away, Jaclyn still in Champ's arms, holding each other close. After a few moments, they were gone.
Claire was alone with Trevor.
She quietly took the seat beside his bed, slowly leaning forward. Her hands reached out, gingerly taking his hand between both of hers, holding it tight. It felt limp in her grasp. Claire wiped away a quick tear, laughing softly. "Gee, Trevor. Usually I can't get you to shut up. But now... This is so not like you. I mean, where are all the sexual innuendoes? The offers to find me a loose fitting nurse's uniform and a locked room?"
Trevor lay there, perfectly still.
"It doesn't seem right seeing you this way." She took a long breath, watching him. "You're always so active, so brimming with energy, Trevor. So full of motion, so... so full of emotion. So full of life."
There was no reaction.
"So full of yourself..." Claire laughed sadly, wiping her eyes, looking at him. It didn't really seem like Trevor at all. Not the Trevor she knew.
Claire was gentle as she lifted his hand, kissing it softly. She leaned forward in her chair, sniffing, her face full of concern and sorrow as she came near him. She looked into his closed eyes, searching, searching for him, for any sign.
There was no answer. He hadn't moved at all.
"Trevor, can you hear me?"
The room was silent.
Claire sighed. Trevor had shown no sigh of hearing her. She kissed his hand again, thinking. Finally, she felt herself open up to him, speaking honestly from the heart.
"Trevor... I know we've had our fights in the past. And I know we don't always agree... or even get along," Claire looked at him sadly, her eyes moistening over. "But I can't imagine my life without you, Trevor..."
The heart monitor still beeped steadily in the quiet room. Claire held his hand tighter, shifting in her chair as she leaned closer.
"Trevor, can you hear my voice? I need you, Trevor. More than you know. More than I knew. I need you back... Trevor...?"
There was nothing. He wasn't responding. It was like he wasn't even there. Or maybe he didn't want to be, not anymore.
Claire reached cautiously forward, caressing his face softly, tenderly. She pushed his hair back from his head. Her hand moved gently over his cheek, still caressing him. Then, delicately, her fingers touched his lips, tracing cautiously across them with her fingertips. They seemed so delicate, so soft. She felt her fingers tingle on them unexpectedly, remembering. Somehow... it was like those lips were hers. They were her lips. He had given them to her.
Claire pulled back, surprised at the thought. She brought her hand up to her own lips, remembering. Her lips were tingling with the memory as well, tingling under her fingers. Without a word, she rose from her chair, leaning in over him.
Her face hovered close above his, watching her hands caress his face beneath her. Then slowly... gently... she lowered her lips onto his... a soft, tender kiss.... as a tear rolled down her cheek, falling onto his face.
And Trevor took a breath.
Claire felt it against her mouth, and she almost sobbed with joy.
His eyes slowly fluttered open, looking up at her beautiful face, so close to his.
"Trevor, can you see me?"
Trevor smiled weakly. His voice was a whisper, tired and hoarse, but she could still hear the mirth in it. "Hey Sparky.... Who... who said we need a locked room anyway?"
Claire laughed at the sound of his voice. She held his face, kissing his forehead. She hugged him, taking his head into her arms eagerly. "Trevor! You're awake!"
Pleasingly muffled against her body, he answered. "I am now," Trevor said lightly. He winced as Claire hugged him tighter, still a little sore.
Claire pulled back, smiling. "Sorry."
He smiled back at her, using all of his strength to do it. "If you're willing, Claire... I could pencil you in for my sponge bath."
She laughed. "You really must have lost a lot of blood, Trevor. You're delusional."
"Not completely." He touched his lips with his fingers, remembering her kiss awakening him. "Talk about role reversal. I don't know if it did anything for you, but... it was good for me."
Claire hugged him tight, making him wince again. She laughed, laughed to have him in her arms.
Champ and Jaclyn heard her laughing and rushed in from the hallway, stopping in surprise at what they saw. Claire looked up at them as she held Trevor in her arms, smiling happily as she spoke.
"Tell the doctor he's awake."
It was morning, and Claire sat with Trevor at his bedside as the sun rose in the window behind them. They were alone in the room. She looked at him, seeing how weak and fragile he still seemed. He was still sore, but he looked at her with a smile, grateful she was there with him.
Trevor took a long breath. It hurt to breathe. But at least he still had a breath to hurt with. He glanced over at all the machines he was hooked up to. He could hear the heart monitor beeping away beside him. He saw the I.V. dripping beside his bed. All so fragile, so small. But keeping him alive. His eyes began to mist over, growing sad.
"Trevor?" Claire noticed, sliding forward in her chair, closer to him. "Trevor, what's wrong?"
"Nothing." Trevor shook his head. "Nothing, Claire..."
"Are you in pain? Should I call the nurse?"
"No," he said. "No, it's nothing like that. I was just thinking..."
She teased him with a smile. "First time for everything. Thinking about what, Trevor?"
He seemed even sadder. "About that one inch..."
Claire blinked, not following.
Trevor looked at her. They were alone, no one else was around. No one else could hear them. So he exhaled... and continued.
His eyes were brimming with tears. "Claire, one inch over... The doctor told me that if the bullet had been one inch to the right, that I... I would have been..."
Claire moved to his side, holding his hand, trying to comfort him. "But it wasn't, Trevor. OK? You're ok now. I'm here."
"Claire..." His voice was soft, almost sobbing.
"Tell me, Trevor."
He lowered his head, almost as if he were afraid to admit it to her. His face was full of tears when he looked back up, and he took a deep breath.
"Claire, I don't want to die. I don't want to leave..." His voice broke, overwhelmed. "I...I don't want to leave..."
Claire kissed his hand, her voice as soft and desperate as his. "You're not going anywhere, Trevor. Ok? Do you hear me? You're not. You're going to stay here. You're going to live a long life. I won't let you leave me. I'm right here. I'm right here with you, Trevor."
"Don't leave me, Claire." He lowered his eyes, overwhelmed by how close he had come. "One inch over. One inch..." Trevor gasped softly.
Claire took him in her arms, and Trevor collapsed against her shoulder. She began to rock him gently, understanding how scared he was for the first time. She had never heard him cry out loud like this before.
Claire sighed, holding Trevor, not wanting to let go of him. Suddenly nothing else in the world seemed to matter. Nothing else but having him in her arms. She held him tightly, scared too. Scared at how close she had been to losing him. She clung to him, breathing against his neck, wanting him there. Wanting him never to leave her. And for once, not questioning those feelings.
The sunlight bathed them in bars of golden light falling past their bodies as Claire held Trevor, sitting on his bed. She rocked him as he cried. The room was quiet, falling away, giving them their privacy.
It was night again, and a dark sky hovered outside the window. Trevor's hospital room was dark and in shadows. Claire sat at his bedside. A single fluorescent light glowed above the headboard, illuminating them both. She hadn't left his side all day, staying there with him. She still held his hand in hers, even though he was in a deep sleep.
The doctors had given him a sedative earlier to dull the pain so he could sleep. Trevor breathed calmly, completely out of it. Her eyes never left him, watching silently.
A nurse walked into the room, but Claire didn't pull her hand away from his. She looked up as the nurse came over to the bed. The nurse looked at Claire sitting there, and she paused.
"I'm just going to check his vitals. Make sure he's ok."
Claire nodded, eyes sadly going back to Trevor.
The nurse checked Trevor's I.V. drip, making note of the fluid level. The small machine whirred softly, going about its job as a red LED number glowed on its side. She checked Trevor's bandages, careful not to wake him. The bleeding seemed to have stopped. His sutures were holding. She was about to leave, making a note on her clipboard, when she noticed Claire's expression... and stopped.
Claire didn't even notice what the nurse had been doing. Her eyes were full of worry, full of concern as she looked at Trevor. She seemed afraid of something.
The nurse tried to comfort her. "Ma'am? Don't worry. We're taking good care of him. His injury is still serious, but it's no longer life threatening. He'll be ok. He's out of the woods..."
Claire nodded, still introspective as she looked at Trevor. "I know. I know he will." Suddenly she let out a soft, sad laugh. "But I'm worried that I... that I might have an even bigger problem."
The nurse blinked, not understanding. "And what's that?"
Claire was still looking at Trevor, and she didn't pause as she answered, her voice quiet. "I think I'm in love with him..." she said finally. Finally admitting it to herself.
The nurse didn't understand the concerned look in Claire's eyes, or why it should be a problem that Claire felt that way. But she said nothing, nodding silently and leaving the two of them alone.
Claire shifted closer to Trevor as he slept, lifting his hand to her lips and kissing it. She didn't want to think about it now. Didn't want to think about the implications of her statement. Of what it would mean.
Claire slowly lowered her head down onto Trevor's chest, contently listening to his heart, feeling it beat against her face. She sighed and closed her eyes, resting there, listening.
She knew things would have to change because of how she felt. Knew that a lot of those changes were things she wasn't looking forward to. It should be easy when someone felt the way she did, but it wasn't. Not for her and Trevor. Not with what he was, and what she was. But that didn't matter right now. Right now she was just thankful that Trevor was alive. The hard decisions she would have to make... could wait.