Those who are familiar with my stories, know that it's my goal to post every week. Right now I don't have enough parts ready to make that commitment, but I promise I'll try and correct that as soon as possible.
I want to thank Norma, for proofreading.
"What? Now he wants a UA, CBC, BMP, H and H and a chest X-ray done STAT?" the secretary's voice rose in annoyance. "I just finished all the other two pages of orders he wanted done as soon as possible! Does he think we only have one patient here?"
"Calm down, Gary," Hannah Jensen sighed, patting the upset man on his shoulder. "If you take care of the orders for that new admission, I'll take care of these."
A pair of exasperated blue eyes glanced up at the nurse and Gary Cramer's eyes softened.
"No, I'll do them," he replied with a small smile. "You haven't done your charting yet and you look dead on your feet. Besides," he added with a grin. "Last time you helped me out, I had to explain to Radiology why we asked them to draw some blood cultures."
Hannah Jensen chuckled and gave Gary a playful slap on his shoulder.
"That was an honest mistake," she defended herself.
"Yeah, right," Gary snorted, grabbing the hand that was threatening to ruffle his thinning hair. "Radiology...laboratory...yes, that definitely sounds alike," he teased.
"I was tired," Hannah sighed, pulling a face when she remembered that extremely busy day, not that long ago.
"I know, sweetie," Gary nodded, pulling the papers she held out of her hand. "That's why I'll do these, all right?"
"Okay," Hannah breathed, casting a look at the clock. Twenty minutes before shift change and she still had so much to do. "Thanks, Gary."
"You' re welcome," the secretary smiled, already pulling up the order screen on the computer. What would it matter if he couldn't leave on time? He knew Jake would understand. Besides, Hannah never got to leave on time and he knew her life was a lot more busy and complicated than his.
Casting a look over her shoulder, he noticed Hannah was engrossed in her charting and with a small sigh he returned his attention to the screen. It had been months since the nurse had gone to a club with him and Jake and Gary knew for a certainty she had not been out since. He worried about his friend and decided to talk to Jake about the situation. Between the two of them, they could come up with a plan to drag their friend into some much needed relaxation. Maybe they could even talk her into a long weekend at the cabin. Do some hiking, fishing and swimming...just for old times sake.
With a smile, Gary nodded. He would talk to Jake about it.
With a groan, Hannah Jensen closed the door behind her, making sure to slide the safety locks into place. It was well past midnight and the house was quiet and dark, except for the night-light her grandmother always left on for her.
When she tossed her keys on the table and switched on the light, Hannah smiled when her eyes fell on a little note that was placed on top of her favorite mug.
Make sure to eat and drink something, before you go to bed. I know, I know, I sound like your grandmother....hey! I AM your grandmother!
Hannah chuckled and picked up the mug, heading for the kitchen, while her eyes scanned the rest of the note.
Try to sleep in tomorrow morning, I know you' re tired. Don't worry about me. Mildred is taking me out for breakfast. She says she's buying, so I'll have to think of some place expensive.
Sweet dreams, honey.
I love you.
Hannah smiled and carefully folded the note, before putting it into her pocket. She grinned when she imagined the look on her aunt Mildred's face when her grandmother would chose an expensive place to eat. The woman had survived three husbands, who had left her extremely comfortable, but still, if she could save a penny or two, she would. And her grandmother loved to annoy her daughter about that.
Hannah yawned while she used the microwave to quickly warm up some soup, staring at the rotating mug, with dull, tired eyes, until the high pitched beep brought her back to reality.
"Bedtime," she groaned, switching off the light in the kitchen and heading towards her room. It was more than just a bedroom. When she had moved in with her grandmother, Gertrude Jensen had insisted Hannah take the master bedroom which was huge. It had a full-sized bathroom and an adjacent smaller bedroom. To Hannah, it felt like having her own apartment, where she could relax and find the solitude she sometimes craved so much, especially after a hectic, difficult day at work.
Kicking off her tennis shoes, Hannah let herself sink down in a soft, leather recliner that once belonged to her father and leaned back, sipping the spicy, hot soup with half-lidded eyes that lazily traveled through the room, until they came to rest on a framed photo that showed a smiling couple, a man and woman, who had their heads close together while they looked straight into the camera. The tired blue eyes became a shade darker when the image evoked a sudden surge of emotion that was so intense, Hannah sucked in a breath.
"I still miss you so much, Mom, Dad," she whispered. "I know it has almost been two years now, but that's just time. It doesn't feel that long," she took a deep, shaky breath and raked her fingers through her thick, blond hair. "It feels like yesterday," she whispered. "It still hurts."
Unconsciously, Hannah's fingers rubbed the armrest of the chair, something she had witnessed her father doing countless times. When she realized what she was doing, she smiled and drained her mug, setting it on a small side-table next to the chair.
"I really have to shower," she mumbled, relaxed by the warmth the soup spread into her belly and the comfortable seat she was resting in.
"Just for a little while," she sighed, closing her eyes.
Within minutes the deep, regular breathing was the only sound in the room. The queen-sized bed remained unoccupied.
Hannah cast an impatient look at her watch and drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. She was late, which she detested. She hated having to rush to work, fighting the traffic that was always busy in the downtown area. Of course, she was stuck behind a city bus that stopped on every corner and, with a sigh, Hannah glanced in her rearview mirror to see if she could quickly change lanes and overtake the annoying bus.
"Finally," she mumbled when she saw her chanceto steer her car into the other lane. Within seconds, she was alongside the bus and for the first time since many minutes she had a clear, uninterrupted view of the road in front of her. When she approached a traffic light she slowed down when she saw the red light and took a moment to enjoy the clear blue sky. A few days ago, the November rains had started in earnest and although the roads were still wet, the clouds had lifted, giving the sun a chance to dry the saturated, soaked earth.
"I've got to start on my Christmas list soon," Hannah mumbled to herself. "And maybe do some shopping."
Christmas had been difficult for years now and Hannah wondered if that would ever change. Still, encouraged by her grandmother, who had always loved the holiday season, Hannah felt compelled, at least, tomake an effort to enjoy herself.
"I guess I need to call Jake and see if he knows what Gary would like," Hannah mused, switching her foot from the braketo the pedal when the light changed to green. The bus next to her was not as fast as her Ford Bronco and just when Hannah passed the large vehicle, the sound of screeching tires filled her ears and while her head whipped to the right to get a visual confirmation of what her ears were picking up, something collided with the side of her truck, pushing the car into oncoming traffic, where it was hit again, causing the Ford to be sandwiched between a truck and a mini-van.
A sharp pain shot through Hannah's head while fear- and pain-filled blue eyes stared at the thick drops of blood, splattering on her hands that were still holding the steering wheel in a vice-like grip. They slowly relaxed when Hannah let out a soft moan, while her head fell forward and darkness claimed her.
"I want those results within the next five minutes, Ken. Can you do that for me, please?"
"You bet, Rachel. I'll have a look at that scan right now."
Doctor Rachel Kendrick put down the phone and turned around to cast a look at the still figure on the bed. IV fluids were dripping down the tube that was attached to the cannula in Hannah's left arm. A stark white dressing covered the right part of her forehead, while the angry red welt on her shoulder and chest were testimony to her use of the seatbelt.
"Thank heavens she was wearing one," Doctor Kendrick sighed, having seen too many victims of car wrecks who had not been wearing the safety device. Some of the images she had seen would haunt her for the rest of her life.
She sent a small smile to the nurse who was trying carefully to clean the blood out of Hannah's thick blond hair. They both knew they were giving Hannah Jensen the royal treatment, but they didn't care. The unconscious nurse was one of them.
"Thanks, Betty. I'm sure she'll appreciate that."
"Hannah would do the same thing for me," Betty Palmer answered, without taking her eyes off the woman on the gurney. It remained silent for a few moments, until Betty glanced up at the woman who was standing next to her.
"We worked here in the ER together for a while," she explained. "Until Hannah couldn't take it anymore." Betty sighed and brushed away a strand of blond hair from Hannah's forehead. "Too much violence, too many sad stories...too many cases of child abuse," she added softly.
A loud voice from the hallway suddenly broke the silence and Betty chuckled when she noticed the startled look in the Doctor's warm brown eyes.
"That sounds like Gary," she said. "Keep an eye on Hannah, Doc. I'll go talk to him."
Before Rachel Kendrick could respond, Betty Palmer had already left the room, leaving her alone with the unconscious woman.
Rachel stepped closer and reached out a hand to check Hannah's pulse. It was strong and rhythmical and, with a pleased smile, the Doctor slowly withdrew her fingers from the nurse's wrist.
"You were lucky, Hannah," she spoke softly, wondering if the woman could hear her. "No fractures, no internal damage. Just some cuts, scrapes and bruises. But I'd feel better if you'd wake up, though," she added with a small frown.
She almost jumped when her pager started beeping. She quickly checked the display and sucked in a breath when she recognized the number.
"Ken! That's fast."
Stepping towards a phone that was mounted to the wall, Rachel turned her back on the unconscious nurse, while her fingers punched in four digits.
Hannah sighed deeply. It was so hard to concentrate. There was a dull, throbbing pain in her head and her body felt heavy, like it was pinned down to her mattress. She tried to open her eyes, but the lids seemed too heavy and with a soft moan she lifted a hand to rub them.
Immediately, the hand was grabbed in a gentle, warm grip.
"No, Hannah, careful for the dressing."
Even while she was drifting in between awakening and unconsciousness, the voice stirred something deep inside and Hannah frowned, trying to recognize the gentle timbre and the familiarity of the fingers that stroked the back of her hand. It was a fleeting memory, but the accompanying surge of emotions was a lot stronger.
"Rachel?" she whispered, while a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "Honey, is it time to get up yet?"
Doctor Kendrick swallowed hard and quickly withdrew her hand, feeling a painful pressure in her chest when Hannah softly whimpered. Her eyes flew to the computer on the desk, where she could see the images of Hannah's CAT scan. No bleeding, no swelling, she reassured herself for the umpteenth time.
"It's just a concussion," she spoke aloud, needing to hear the words echoing off the wall in the silent room. "It's just a concussion," she added in a whisper.
She turned around when the door opened and Betty Palmer stepped inside. Her eyes traveled from Rachel to Hannah and back again.
"She's waking up," Rachel smiled, seeing the unspoken question in the nurse's hazel eyes. "No damage, just a concussion," she explained, gesturing to the images on the computer screen.
"Keep her here until she's awake, before sending her to the floor. I'll write some orders. Is her family here yet?"
"No, just Gary. Jake, he's a...friend, is on his way to pick up Hannah's grandmother."
Rachel's eyebrows lifted and she cast Betty a questioning, almost insecure look.
"Gary's an old friend of Hannah's. They work on the same floor. Maybe you'd like to talk to him for a moment," Betty suggested. "He's pretty worried."
"Um...well...uh, yes, sure," Rachel stammered, clutching the chart against her chest. "You...um...keep an eye on Hannah and page me when there are any changes. I want to know the positive ones as well."
"Sure, Doc," Betty smiled, before focusing her attention back to her friend who was slowly, but surely, showing signs of regaining consciousness.
Rachel cast another look at the blonde on the gurney, before taking a deep breath and walking towards the door.
Time to face the firing squad!
As soon as Gary saw a person in a white lab coat emerge from the room he knew Hannah had been brought into, he jumped off the hard plastic chair and took a step forward.
"Doctor! Hannah, is she...?"
Gary paused in mid-sentence and his blue eyes went wide when he looked at the person who was standing in front of him. Her hair was shorter and over the years she had lost some weight, but the soulful brown eyes were exactly as he remembered, as was the nervous smile she sent his way.
"Hello, Gary," Rachel spoke, anchoring herself by pressing the metal chart close to her chest. She could feel the painful pounding of her heart and she took a deep breath to try and steady herself.
"Rachel?" Gary breathed, wondering if he was dreaming. "Is it really you?"
Rachel could only nod and fought the urge to turn around and run. She knew there had been a chance for the past to catch up with her, she had just not expected for it to happen so soon.
"It's me," she answered, her voice soft and hoarse.
"You came home," Gary smiled, reaching out and grabbing her arm. "Are you staying?" She nodded. "For good?"
"That's my plan," Rachel answered.
Gary's eyes traveled to the door behind Rachel and his blue eyes took on a worried expression.
"Did Hannah...? What did she...?"
"She's been unconscious," Rachel hurried to explain. "There's no damage, just a cut in her forehead and a concussion," she quickly added when she saw the fear in Gary's eyes. "She...she...," Rachel swallowed hard and mustered up a sad smile. "She doesn't know it was me...I think."
"She'll have to know," Gary replied in a compassionate voice and, when he saw Rachel slowly nod, he quickly wrapped his arms around her, immediately feeling how tense she was.
"It will be all right," he spoke softly, gently rubbing her back.
"I'm not sure about that," Rachel mumbled, feeling comforted by Gary's unexpected hug. " She has every reason to hate me. I...," she snorted and barked out a humorless laugh. "There are at least twelve hospitals in this area and I ended up here...where Hannah works."
"Some things happen for a reason," Gary smiled.
"She'll want to kill me," Rachel mumbled in a tired voice. "And you know what?" She looked up at Gary to see if there would be any confirmation in his eyes. But there was none. The only thing she saw was genuine kindness and warmth. "I can't blame her," she added in a whisper.
"Listen to me, Rachel," Gary spoke, putting his hands on her shoulders and stepping back a little so he could look her in the eyes. "I won't pretend I know what happened, because she never talked to me about it." He saw the surprise in Rachel's eyes and nodded. "That's right. Hannah never talked to me about it, so I know that, whatever...catastrophe...came between the two of you, it must have devastated her. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, sweetie, but I think you need to know. You're here now and by some strange event, you're her Doctor and you'll have to deal with that."
"That's easier said than done." Rachel blew out a breath and rubbed her forehead, something she always did when she was nervous, Gary remembered.
"You'll be fine. You've always been a kind, compassionate person, Rachel, unless you've changed into a cold, heartless bitch theselast few years," Gary winked with a grin.
Rachel smiled and playfully punched his shoulder. "Some people would probably agree with you," she chuckled. Hannah will be one of them...
Suddenly Rachel's pager started to beep and with an apologetic smile she looked up at Gary.
"I'm sorry, Gary, I'll have to go. Will I...," she swallowed and tried to push away a sudden surge of insecurity.
"We'll see each other later," Gary nodded, immediately seeing her eyes light up. "We've got a lot of catching up to do."
"Thanks, I'd love that," Rachel answered gratefully. "I'll stop by to check up on Hannah later, I promise," she added in a soft voice.
"I'd appreciate that," Gary nodded, knowing she could easily have handed Hannah over to one of the residents, or another Doctor. But Rachel Kendrick had never been someone who would take the easy way out and he trusted her to face Hannah and deal with the fall-out of their break-up and her disappearance all those years ago.
Wait till Jake hears about this, he'll go nuts!
Hannah blinked against the harsh light and closed her eyes with a groan when a flash of hot pain seared through her head. There was a throbbing above her right eye and even the slightest movement made her feel nauseated.
"Crap," she whispered, when the warm, fuzzy feeling she had experienced just before she woke up completely disappeared.
"Hannah?" a familiar voice sounded and carefully Hannah cracked open her left eye. Her vision was blurry but, after she blinked a few times, the images cleared up.
"Betty. What happened?"
"You don't remember?" Betty Palmer asked in a calm voice. It was not uncommon for a person with a concussion to experience a lapse in memory.
"Give me a moment," Hannah croaked, closing her eyes again. Her thoughts traveled back to events of that morning and slowly, but surely, her memories began to take shape. She had slept in, just as her grandmother had suggested, she had taken a long, hot shower and had spent a quiet morning at home. She had left for work and...Hannah gasped and her eyes flew open, something she immediately regretted when the thrumming in her head made her feel sick to her stomach.
"I was hit by a truck," she moaned. "He must have run the light, but I didn't see him coming."
"I'm glad you remember," Betty smiled. "How do you feel?"
"Like I've been hit by a truck," Hannah mumbled, closing her eyes again. "I guess that gives new meaning to the old expression, doesn't it?"
"I'll take your word for it," Betty chuckled.
"I need to call my grandmother, before she..."
"Jake's picking her up," Betty interrupted. "She'll be here any minute now. Gary's outside, talking to the doctor. She's...oh, hey, Gary," Betty greeted the man when the door opened and he stepped inside. "I was just talking about you."
"Good things, I hope," Gary quipped, quickly walking to Hannah and grabbing her hand. "How are you, honey?"
"I've had better days," Hannah croaked, squeezing her friend's hand. "I'm glad you' re here," she confessed. "But who's holding the fort?"
"Tammy, one of the nurses from the floating pool," Gary answered. "You scared the heck out of me, girl," he added with a sigh.
"Sorry," Hannah mumbled. "I didn't mean to get sandwiched. Are the other people...?"
"Just a bump on his head," Betty interrupted. "But I'm sure the police will give him a headache."
"I guess that's only fair," Hannah sighed, making her friends laugh. It was good to see the nurse had not lost her sense of humor.
"So, when do I get out of here?"
Gary and Betty exchanged a knowing look and suppressed a laugh. It was going to be a challenge to convince Hannah it was in her best interest to stay.
"You' re admitted on a twenty-three hour observation," Betty casually remarked, immediately seeing her friend stiffen.
"I'm not staying here," Hannah objected. "I've a nice, warm, soft bed at home where I can crawl into and feel sorry for myself."
"How's your head?" Gary asked casually. "And I want an honest answer."
"Hurts," Hannah grumbled.
"Well, you do have a concussion," he continued in a calm voice. "What would you tell one of your patients if they had just been brought in with a concussion and wanted to go home?"
If it would not have hurt so badly, Hannah would roll her eyes at her friend, but now she just let out a deep sigh and mumbled something unintelligible.
"What?" Gary asked, biting back a grin.
"No fair," Hannah mumbled, glaring at him with her good eye.
"I don't care," Gary shrugged. "You know I'm right, sweetie. Somebody needs to keep an eye on you to make sure you're okay. So, humor us."
"All right, all right," Hannah muttered. "Can I get a room on my own floor?"
"I'll make sure of that," Gary grinned, walking to the phone and quickly dialing a number. Within a minute, he received confirmation of Hannah's admission to the unit she worked in and, with a smug smile, he looked down at his friend.
"Room 6032," he announced with a laugh.
"Oh, boy, right across from the nurse's station," Hannah knew. "You' re serious about keeping an eye on me, aren't you?"
"Absolutely," Gary nodded
"I guess my fate is settled then," Hannah replied in a tired voice. "But I'll tell you one thing, my friend, I'm not wearing one of those stupid gowns."
"Of course not," Betty replied, winking at Gary. "We'll get you a special one, one that actually does button up."
The ER nurse bent down and kissed Hannah's forehead.
"I gotta go check up on my other patients, but I'll be back soon. I'm so glad you' re all right," she smiled.
"Thanks, Betty," Hanna smiled back. "I promise I'll try to be good."
"Nurses are the worst patients," Gary stated, seeing both women chuckle. "You girls know I'm right, it's true."
"Call me if you need anything," Betty laughed, ignoring Gary's remark. She disappeared from the room and Gary pulled out a chair so he could sit next to his friend.
"What are the Doctor's orders, Gary? Could you read them to me?"
"I could if they were here," Gary answered. "But she took them with her."
"Rats," Hannah sighed, feeling helpless and utterly vulnerable in her role as patient. Then Gary's words sank in and she slowly rolled her head to the side so she could look at him.
Gary nodded and tried to look casual, suddenly feeling a little nervous about having to explain his friend who her Doctor was.
"New Doctor," he shrugged.
"What's her name?" Hannah asked, hoping that if it was a new resident she might be able to talk her into letting her go home.
"Um..." Darn it, Hannah! You just had to ask, didn't you?I had hoped for a little more preparation time. But he knew his friend well and if he would not answer, she would become suspicious.
"Rachel," he answered softly, immediately noticing the almost imperceptible flinch.
"I'm sure that's not her last name, is it?" Hannah asked after a brief silence. When she looked at Gary's face and noticed his struggle to find the right words, her stomach dropped. Her mouth suddenly felt as dry as parchment and she nervously moistened her lips.
"Is...is it Kendrick?" she asked in a hoarse voice.
When Gary nodded she moaned softly and closed her eyes, suddenly feeling sick to her stomach.
"Of all the hospitals we have around here, she had to end up in this one?"
Funny, that's what she said as well, Gary mused, but he just nodded and grabbed his friend's hand.
"If it's worth anything; she's as shocked as you are," he said in a gentle voice. "She looked like she was ready to bolt." As soon as the words had left his mouth, he winced. Poor choice of words, Gary! Way to go!
"I bet," Hannah answered in a bitter voice. "She's good at that."
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but she's your admitting Doctor. Of course you can always request anoth..."
"No," Hannah interrupted. "I'll have to face her, because I'm sure as heck not leaving just because she's decided to work here now."
She brought a hand to her head and carefully rubbed it. The pounding had become worse and Hannah seriously wondered if she would be able to face the next few hours without having to throw up. Suddenly, she remembered the moment just before she woke up and she softly groaned.
Please, God, let her not have heard me calling her ‘honey'.
"Are you all right, Hannah?" Gary's concerned voice sounded.
"No, I'm not," Hannah moaned. "My head's about to explode, I feel like I could throw up any minute now, my car is degraded to a worthless piece of junk and I just remembered I called Rachel ‘honey', just before I woke up. Can I please go to sleep now and wake up somewhere next year?" she almost sobbed. "I don't want to play anymore."
Rachel Kendrick, who had quietly entered the room just before Hannah had answered Gary's question, took a deep breath and clenched Hannah's chart in her hands, willing her fingers not to tremble. It was time to face the music, but no matter how many times she had rehearsed the upcoming meeting, words suddenly failed her and she wished the ground would open up to swallow her whole. There had only been one thing harder in her life than the near confrontation with Hannah Jensen: that had been leaving her.
"Is...how does she look?" Rachel heard Hannah ask and before she could announce her presence, Gary answered.
"She looks great, she hasn't changed much."
"She always looked great," Hannah admitted in a soft voice.
Feeling embarrassed to have heard this part of the conversation, Rachel cleared her throat, immediately seeing Gary cast a look over his shoulder, while Hannah groaned.
"Can this day get any better?" she muttered, closing her eyes so she didn't have to look at the slowly approaching woman.
She could feel Gary's hand giving her a friendly squeeze, before letting go and, with a feeling of dread, she knew he was about to leave the room.
"I'll go see if Jake and your grandmother have arrived yet," he mumbled, bending down to kiss Hannah's cheek.
"Coward," Hannah whispered, glaring at him. "It's not like I'm in the position to kill her, you know."
Rachel internally winced and fought the urge to fidget with the chart she was still holding. She did not want to look too nervous.
Gary didn't answer his friend, he just sent her an encouraging smile and gently patted Rachel's shoulder when he passed the Doctor on his way to the door.
Taking a deep breath, Rachel stepped closer and, with an insecure look, her brown eyes landed on the blonde who had closed her eyes, apparently waiting for her to start the conversation.
Maybe there's safety in a professional approach.
"May I check your pupils?" Rachel asked softly, putting the chart on the desk and pulling a thin penlight from her pocket.
"I guess," Hannah answered after a brief silence.
"All right," Rachel sighed, covering Hannah's right eye with her hand. "Open your left eye, please."
Reluctantly, Hannah did as requested, but she made sure not to look up. The memory of soft brown eyes was still too much to bear. So was the careful touch of the fingers that brushed the side of her head.
"Now close the left and open the right eye," Rachel continued, hoping Hannah would not have heard the small quiver in her voice.
"I really prefer to go home," Hannah spoke, her voice soft and void of emotion.
"I understand that," Rachel answered equally soft. "But you do have a concussion and it's important to keep a close eye on you. Your CT looks good, but I want to make sure it will remain that way. You might need some anti-emetic to fight the nausea."
"I'm all right," Hannah answered through gritted teeth. How in the world did Rachel know she was feeling that sick? Had she turned green?
"Hannah...," Rachel started, reaching out a hand to touch the other woman's shoulder but quickly taking a step back when she changed her mind. "It's only for one night. If, tomorrow morning..."
Rachel could not finish her sentence, because Hannah suddenly moaned loudly and, while turning on her side, emptied the contents of her stomach on the floor and Doctor Rachel Kendrick's shoes.
"Oh, God," she sobbed, grasping her painfully pounding head. "Ouch."
Rachel quickly grabbed a towel from a small stack that she spotted on a shelf and gently wiped Hannah's face, while her eyes took in the vital signs that were displayed on a monitor next to the bed. To her relief, she noticed everything was within normal limits and, after a moment of hesitation, she put her hand on Hannah's shoulder and gave it a little squeeze.
"Do you think there will be more?" she asked softly.
"Wasn't it enough?" Hannah sighed, slowly sinking back onto the gurney. She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the hand that was still resting on her shoulder. She didn't know whether to shake it off or grab it. Willing away the tears that were stinging the back of her eyes, she silently wondered what was worse: the throbbing pain in her head or the unexpected, shocking presence of Rachel Kendrick that had made her heart beat fast and painfully.
Oh, Rachel, why?
"I'll give you something for nausea," Rachel's voice interrupted her musings and for the first time Hannah opened her eyes to look directlyat the other woman.
"Don't give me any Phenergan, please," she said in a hoarse voice. "That stuff knocks me out."
"Don't worry," Rachel smiled, remembering Hannah's sensitivity to medication. "I'll give you some Zofran, all right?"
Hannah could only nod and she quickly closed her eyes, not able to look at those familiar brown eyes any longer. The memories they awakened were too confusing and painful. All she wanted was to close her eyes and let herself sink into oblivion.
Please, Granny, where are you? I need you now. And where the heck is Gary?
"I'll be right back," Hannah heard Rachel say, aware of the undertone of shame and pain in the Doctor's voice. Soft footsteps moved towards the door and Hannah sighed when she heard Rachel step out of the room. A single tear slipped from underneath her closed eyelids and trickled down her cheek.
Rachel's eyes flew through the hallway and, when they fell on Betty, she motioned her over.
"Could you give Hannah some Zofran, please, here's the order," she mumbled, pushing the chart in the nurse's hands. "I need to clean myself up a little," she explained, before turning around and heading for the restroom.
Betty Palmer stared from the chart in her hands to the retreating back of the physician and back to the chart again.
"What was that all about?" she muttered, before heading back to Hannah's room to check up on her friend.
Rachel had reached the restroom and after she had made sure she had closed the door securely, she leaned both hands on the sink and leaned forward.
"Oh, God," she whispered, before she gave free rein to the tears that had been burning her eyes ever since she had found Hannah Jensen in the emergency room, bruised and bleeding.
"Hannah, I'm so sorry," she sobbed. "I'm so sorry..."
"What do you mean? Are you implying I'm old?" Gertrude Jensen asked calmly, casting her granddaughter a look that could only be described as ‘indignant'.
"No, Gran, you' re not old," Hannah sighed, wishing the room would stop spinning. "But it would be insanity on your part to stay the night. I am perfectly all right, I promise. Unless," Hannah opened her eyes and mustered up a small smile when her gaze was caught by a pair of warm blue eyes. "Unless there's something you' re not telling me."
"Like what?" Gertrude almost snorted.
"Am I dying?" Hannah replied with a raised eyebrow. When she noticed the shadow cross her grandmother's eyes she softly groaned. "I'm sorry, Granny, I shouldn't have said that. It was a bad joke."
"That's a testimony to the state of your brain, sweetie," Gertrude calmly answered. "Usually, your taste in jokes is better than that. Besides, I'm not the only one who lost a loved one that day. You lost your parents and somehow I still feel I'm failing you in helping you to deal with the pain."
Hannah let out a deep sigh and sent her grandmother a small smile. The clear, blue eyes that hardly ever lost their sparkle were tired and dull. They have had the same conversation before, numerous times. She knew the elderly lady was not just talking about the loss of her parents. That was something they both had worked through together. It was the other loss, the one she had tried so hard to push into the back of her mind, and heart.
"I know my timing is bad and I promise I'll shut up about it, but I just wish you would talk to me about it, honey," Gertrude spoke in a voice that was soft and full of sadness.
"Maybe one day," Hannah sighed, playing with the curled up edge of the tape on her arm that was keeping her IV in place.
"Stop fidgeting, before you accidentally pull that thing out," Gertrude scolded.
"Yes, ma' am," Hannah answered, pulling a face.
"And don't play innocent with me," her grandmother smiled, reaching out and covering Hannah's hand with her own. "I know you want to get out of here as soon as possible, but will just one night be that bad? Isn't Kerry working the Graveyard?"
Hannah nodded and entangled her strong fingers with Gertrude's frail- looking ones. The skin of her grandmother's hand was thin and wrinkled, with the blue veins clearly standing out. Suddenly, it dawned on her that Gertrude would turn eighty-five in the Spring.
"Don't let the look fool you, dear," her grandmother's amused voice penetrated her thoughts. "My hands may look old, but I'm not dead. I'm not planning on leaving you any time soon. I have too much fun harassing your Aunt Mildred."
Hannah chuckled, immediately grasping her head, while sending her grandmother an accusing look.
"Don't make me laugh. That hurts."
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but at least you' re laughing. I know today was a disaster, but you' re here and you'll be all right. I'm counting my blessings."
"You' re right, Granny," Hannah answered with a warm smile. "Do you want to come car-shopping with me this week?"
"Only if you do as the Doctor tells you to do," Gertrude teased, not missing the almost imperceptible flinch on Hanna's face.
"That's blackmail," she softly muttered.
"Hey, it works," Gertrude Jensen grinned.
"All right, here's the deal," Hannah decided. "You go home and sleep. I'll be good. How does that sound?"
"That's blackmail," Gertrude mumbled, wondering when she had lost control of the conversation.
"It works," Hannah smiled, flinging her grandmother's own words back at her. "Doesn't it?"
"It does," Gertrude nodded with an audible sigh. "All right, I'll go home and sleep in my own bed, but I want you to promise me you'll call whenever you feel the need to do so." The elderly woman clearly remembered her granddaughter's nightmares after she had lost her parents. She didn't want her to go through those horrible dreams alone.
"I promise," Hannah replied softly. "By the way, Gary and Jake will be staying with you tonight," she added casually.
"What?" Gertrude shot up straight in her chair and cast the younger woman in the hospital bed a puzzled glance.
"I don't want you to be alone in the house," Hannah explained. "I told Gary I would be worried about you tonight, so he offered to stay with you. Where Gary goes, Jake goes, so...you'll have two capable helpers tonight."
Gertrude Jensen knew her granddaughter and the determined look in those tired blue eyes were a clear indication that arguing would not do her any good. Besides, truth to be told, Gertrude did not like being all alone and knowing Hannah's friends would be there made her feel a lot better.
"Fine with me," she shrugged. "Anything to keep you here. Besides," she shot her granddaughter a rakish grin. "Maybe the three of us can get drunk and try on all your clothes."
"Oh, ha ha," Hannah answered, but there was a smile in her eyes. "But I'm glad you're not fighting me on this. Gary said he can leave a little early tonight, so he can take you home. I..."
Hannah was interrupted by a noise in the hallway and she glanced at the door that was slightly ajar. She could not see who was standing in front of the door, but she did recognize the voice. It was the son of a patient she had admitted the previous day and he had a very strong and outspoken opinion about his mother's care. He wanted nothing but the best...and more, much more.
A soft, feminine voice answered him and inwardly Hannah groaned as she cast a look at her grandmother, whose blue eyes darted between the door and her granddaughter. Hannah closed her eyes, trying very hard not to show her grandmother the turmoil inside.
"No, I will not calm down," the angry voice rose in volume and both Hannah and Gertrude jumped when an invisible hand slammed into the wall, just outside the door.
"My mother has been here for a full day now and her Doctor still has to come up here to see her and don't tell me those...those wet-behind-the-ears medical students classify as Doctors, because they don't!"
"Sir, I understand your frustration and..."
"No, you don't understand. I want a Doctor to see my mother NOW! So why don't you march your ass into that room, Doctor? You are a Doctor, aren't you? Or is that stethoscope for decoration purposes only?"
"Oh, boy," Hannah muttered, stretching out a hand and grabbing Gertrude's arm when the elderly woman started to get up from her chair.
"Stay here, Granny, please."
"But, honey, that...person is..."
"I'm sure Gary has already called security and they'll be here any minute now," Hannah answered, having called hospital security on more than one occasion.
"I hope you' re right," Gertrude muttered, sinking back down in the chair. "He sounds like an obnoxious, arrogant...pompous..."
"Hannah!" Gertrude answered with a small grin. "My old ears recognize an asshole when I hear one and he certainly classifies as a real, genuine..."
"Yes, Granny, I get the picture," Hannah replied, trying hard not to laugh. She had a splitting headache and even a chuckle felt like somebody was using her head for a drum. "Just hold on to your Southern charm and wait for Security to show up."
"All right, dear, but they'd better hurry, because it sounds like he's really going to lose it soon," Gertrude reached out a hand and gently patted Hannah's knee. "Honey," she continued softly. "That woman in the hallway, I think... I...," she took deep breath. "Is that Rachel?"
So much for trying to hide something for my eagle-eyed Granny. Now what?
Hannah glanced aside and swallowed hard when her eyes were caught by a pair of compassionate ones.
"I know, it's a cruel twist of fate, but Rachel Kendrick somehow managed to become the doctor who admitted me after that truck decided to slam into my poor Bronco, which scrambled my brains in the process," Hannah answered, trying to sound casual, but very aware of the tension that gave her voice an unwanted, slight tremble.
"Sweetheart," Gertrude gasped, her blue eyes wide in shock. "How...?"
"I don't know, Granny," Hannah replied in a tired voice. "All I know is that, when I opened my eyes... there she was..." Almost exactly as I remembered her. But then, how could I ever forget those soulful brown eyes...?
"Oh, baby," Gertrude sighed, covering Hannah's fingers with a warm hand. "This has been quite the day for you then."
"Oh, yeah," Hannah groaned wholeheartedly. "A day that can't end too soon."
"NO! I WON'T," suddenly sounded from the hallway, immediately followed by Rachel's voice.
"That's it. Sir, with all due respect, I've had enough of this verbal abuse. If you want to engage in some more ‘Doctor bashing' I'd strongly recommend you contact your mother's physician. I do not have the time, nor am I in the mood to stand here and listen to your unreasonable requests. I have patients to see. Good evening, sir."
"What the...? You'd better wait, young lady, before..."
"Sir!" a deep voice Hannah recognized as John Overlander, one of the security guards, interrupted. "Put your hand down, sir. I know you're upset, but as soon as you touch the Doctor, I ‘ll have you arrested for assault."
"You...I...Are you inferring I was trying to hit her?"
"Sure looked that way to me, sir," John replied dryly. "I'd suggest you come with me now, so we can have a little chat."
"I don't think that's necessary. I guess I'll just..."
"That wasn't a question, sir," John interrupted in a polite, but determined voice.
"Are you gonna kick me out?" the patient's son asked, suddenly sounding a lot more timid.
"Not unless you give me a reason to do so," John answered calmly. "Come this way, please."
"Sounds like everything is under control," Gertrude sighed. "Thank the heavens for security guards."
"Amen to that," Hannah replied. She looked at her grandmother who was a little paler than usual and tried to come up with the words to reassure the elderly woman that she was all right that Rachel Kendrick's sudden return would be ignored, like her disappearance had been, at least, on the outside. That she, Hannah Jensen, would maintain a professional relationship with the Doctor.
"Avoiding her would be a good start," she mentally added.
But before Hannah could actually give voice to her thoughts, the door was pushed open and Rachel Kendrick stepped inside. Hannah immediately noticed the flushed cheeks and glowing embers in her dark eyes and she knew the Doctor was upset.
No wonder, really, after the way that jerk treated her out there in the hallway. I'm sure the whole floor heard him hollering at her.
Hannah bit back a "Are you all right?" and avoided the familiar eyes by staring at the dull green blanket that covered her legs. Why would she care anyway?
Gertrude Jensen on the other hand, had slowly arisen when Rachel had reluctantly walked towards the bed. She reminded Gertrude of a little girl who was dragging her feet after being told to face the bully of the class.
"Rachel," her soft voice filled the silence. "What a...surprise."
Rachel Kendrick swallowed hard and, for the second time that day, wondered if returning back home had been such a good idea after all. Her gaze met a pair of cool blue ones that rapidly changed expression when they noticed the hurt in the dark-brown eyes.
Gertrude Jensen managed a genuine smile and extended her hand towards the young woman.
"Welcome home," she said, while her hand was grasped by the Doctor, who shot her a grateful look.
"Thank you, Gr...Mrs. Jensen."
"Oh, please!" Gertrude exclaimed, pressing her hand against her chest. "Don't call me that! It reminds me of my mother-in-law, bless her heart."
Rachel couldn't help but smile after that melodramatic outburst and she chuckled, remembering all too well the stories Gertrude Jensen used to tell about her in-laws. From the corner of her eye, she noticed Hannah's smile and a flood of relief rushed through her body, visibly relaxing her. Maybe she would be able to face Hannah after all, do her Doctor routine and leave without having to face a scene. But then, she inwardly sighed, Hannah had never been the type to cause a scene. That's why she had been able to...
"Rachel?" Gertrude's voice penetrated her thoughts. "Do you think Hannah will be able to go home tomorrow?"
"Oh...um..yes, yes, I believe so," she stammered, quickly trying to regain her composure. "I just had a look at her vital signs and neurochecks and they're all absolutely normal. If that doesn't change during the night, Hannah will be discharged in the morning."
Hannah swallowed hard when she heard her name roll off Rachel's lips so easily. It reminded her of the moment just before she had regained consciousness, where she had been thrown back in time, betrayed by her mind and her heart.
"Great," Gertrude Jensen smiled. "I'm pleased to hear that. I know my granddaughter enjoys keeping an eye on me. Now I can finally return the favor."
"I'll be fine, Granny," Hannah muttered. "You don't have to babysit me."
"Oh, but sweetie, you don't understand," Gertrude answered with dancing blue eyes. "This is my time to prove to you where you got your bossy side from. And of course, your talent for nursing," she added casually.
"You scare me," Hannah mumbled, but there was a shadow of a smile on her face when she shot her grandmother an affectionate look.
"I'll take care of her, Rachel," Gertrude nodded. "Hannah is in good hands with me. Besides, I know I can always count on Gary and Jake to help me out."
"The three stooges," Hannah replied with a groan, resting her head back into the pillow.
Rachel's eyes traveled from Hannah to Gertrude and back again. On more occasions than she could count, she had been witness to the friendly banter among the different members of the Jensen family. It was good to see Gertrude and Hannah still maintained that playful side of their relationship. She wondered why Hannah's parents were not with their daughter, but she was reluctant to ask. It was not like she had any right to pry into Hannah Jensen's life. She had burnt her bridges behind her and just had to live with that. No matter how much it hurt. In a few minutes she would be out of the door and if she was lucky, she would be able to avoid Hannah from then on. That would be so much easier now she knew where she worked.
Just a few more minutes...
To be continued...
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