Part Four

 

Chapter Five

Regina pressed the button on her watch, silencing the alarm she set to remind herself to take her medicine. She pulled the round metal pillbox from her scrub pocket and opened it. With a grimace, she popped two pills into her mouth and bent over the water fountain, pushing the button and sucking in the stream of cold water.

She took a break while she had the chance and walked up to the pediatric floor, heading toward Justinís room. She had become quite attached to the boy since she admitted him to the hospital over a month ago. Regina felt the same gut wrenching feeling now, remembering the night of Justinís admission as she had when the police officers told her the boyfriend had dunked Justin in scalding bath water as punishment for crying too much. A neighbor had called 911 when he heard screams coming from the apartment next door. Neither the boyfriend nor the mother had been to the hospital since Justin was admitted to the trauma unit.

Regina stopped outside the door and peeked into the room. Justin was sitting in his crib with his back to the door. She could see him clutching a small bear as he rocked back and forth trying to calm himself. Regina walked up to the crib and called his name softly.

"Justin."

The curly blonde head lifted and turned slowly. A wet tear stained face met hers and she slid the bars down. Justin turned around on his knees and crawled to Regina. His little hands reached out, grabbing the lapels of her jacket, pulling himself up so he was face to face with her.

"Regi." He had a hard time pronouncing her name and it came out with a hard g sound.

"Hi sweetheart." She gathered him into her arms and gave him a hug. "Letís you and I take a walk."

A lower lip protruded in a display of protest.

"Justin, do you want to be able to play with your friends when you go home?" Regina asked.

Blue eyes blinked back at her and he nodded his head.

"Well, that wonít happen if everyone keeps carrying you around with them." She lowered him to the floor. Justin clutched her fingers and whimpered as he took a few tentative steps. Slowly, he gained confidence and he walked toward the door teetering on his still heavily bandaged feet. Regina patiently walked along side him as he made his way out of the room and headed to the nurseís station.

"Ok, you have to be good," she said, picking up one of the toys lying on the desk to hold his attention.

The nurse sitting at the desk turned her chair around when she saw Regina and smiled at her. "Heís going to break your heart you know."

Regina looked up and smiled sadly at her. "Heís worth it. Arenít you Justin?" She touched his nose with her finger.

He looked up at her and he stuck his fingers in his mouth, clutching the stuffed animal to his chest with the other hand. Unlike the other children on the floor, who gradually came out of their shells, as they got better, Justin remained quiet and withdrawn, responding cautiously to the affection that the staff displayed with him.

Regina felt a vibrating against her waist and looked down at her beeper. She tilted the screen so she could read the number. It was the emergency room. With a sigh, she picked up the phone and punched in the five-digit extension. A voice at the other end picked up.

"This is Dr. Kingston. Somebody paged me."

"Hang on let me check." Farther away from the phone, she could hear someone shouting. "Anybody call a Dr. Kingston?" She was put on hold and she bounced Justin on her knee getting him to giggle and clutch her jacket for support.

"Dr. Kingston?" The unit clerk got back on the phone. "Thereís a patient coming in from a car accident. Dr. Margulies is with another patient and canít take it."

"Ok, Iím on my way," Regina said.

She looked at Justin. His blue eyes blinked at her and his lower lip protruded into his hallmark pout. "Oh no," Regina chuckled. "You have to stay here. Iíll see you later Justin." She led him over to the nurse at the desk and handed him off to her. "Hey, any word on getting him foster parents yet?"

The nurse looked up at her and shook her head. "The mother showed up a couple of days ago. She went into drug rehab after the social worker told her they were going to find foster parents for him if she didnít. The hospital is going to release him as soon he is ready to go home."

Reginaís jaw dropped. "When will that be?" She asked.

The nurse shrugged her shoulders "Thatís up to the surgeons. Theyíll probably look at his wounds today."

"Just like that?" Regina looked down at the innocent face staring back at her.

The nurse nodded her head and scooped Justin up into her lap.

Regina walked off the pediatric unit and headed to the back stairwell. She ran her fingers lightly along the metal banister as she trotted down the gunmetal gray stairs. She made her way down to the emergency department and jogged through the double doors. The unit was busy. All the rooms were full and there were two patients lying on stretchers in the hallway waiting to be transported to one of the medical floors. She saw Sandy bent over the two-way radio frantically scribbling notes in the admission log. Slamming the phone down, the nurse waved Regina over when she saw her.

"Weíve got an MVA, five minutes out. The guy took the steering wheel in the chest." Sandy hustled around the desk toward one of the trauma rooms. "He was conscious at the scene but they lost his pulse." Sandy looked over her shoulder at Regina who was following her. Stopping at the board, Sandy ran down the list of names, quickly making a decision about which patient she could move out of the emergency department to free up a room.

"Excuse me." Sandy and Regina turned around. "Can you tell me where my wife is? I got a call that they brought her here." Sandy pointed down the hall toward the nurseís desk.

"The woman behind the desk can help you sir," she directed. Returning her attention to the board she made up her mind.

"Thomas!" She called out to the lanky emergency room technician. "Help me clear out room seven."

He glanced up at the charge nurse and with an aggrieved sigh pushed himself up from his chair at the desk.

"Now, Thomas," Sandy said, glaring at him. "Weíve got five minutes to set up for a major trauma. Get the patient into the hallway and call bed management. Tell them to get off their asses, weíre not a hotel down here." Sandy looked at Regina and flashed her a grin. "Donít worry, weíll be ready for you doc."

Regina slipped past the charge nurse and started pulling on an isolation gown then grabbed a fluid shield mask. She could hear the wailing of the sirens grow louder as the rig turned into the hospitalís drive and headed down the hill toward the ER entrance. Pulling on a pair of gloves, Regina met the paramedics at the doors.

"We need some help in here. Weíre losing this guy!" The ambulance driver shouted frantically.

Reginaís pulse accelerated as her adrenaline kicked in. She caught a glimpse of dark brown hair and an ashen looking face.

"Whatíve we got?" Regina asked, taking hold of the stretcher and running along side.

"Thirty-five year old male, head on collision, steering wheel to the chest, no seat belt on. He was conscious at the scene but we lost his pulse three minutes ago." The paramedic was already straddling the patient on the stretcher compressing his chest as he gave the vitals to the resident.

Sandy was just hooking up fresh tubing to the ventilator when they rushed the patient through the trauma room doors. The room was prepped. Two IV poles with bags of ringerís lactate were standing at the head of the treatment table, EKG leads were laid out on a tray with a chest tube and blood gas kit nearby.

The paramedic stopped compressions and quickly scrambled off the stretcher. Five pairs of hands grasped the backboard. "On my count, one, two, three," Regina said. "Easy, easy." In one smooth motion, the patient was lifted off the ambulance stretcher and onto the treatment table. The paramedic resumed compressions. Sandy disconnected the bag they were using to ventilate his lungs with and hooked the endotracheal tube to the ventilator. Immediately, the rhythmic whoosh and beeping of the ventilator took over breathing for the injured man. Thomas quickly slapped the leads on the patientís chest and connected the EKG wires to the cardiac wall monitor.

Regina slipped the stethoscope over the patientís chest listening intently. "Stop compressions." She looked at the monitor. "Weíve got a normal rhythm." She could hear breath sounds on the right side, but the left was diminished. Sliding up to the head of the table Regina loosened the tape holding the endotracheal tube in place.

Withdrawing the tube, a couple of inches she grabbed hold of the paramedicís hand and clasped it around the tube. "Hold it there." Slapping the stethoscope back down over the chest Regina confirmed her diagnosis. "Heís got a pneumothorax on the left. I need a chest tube kit and get a blood gas on this guy." She re-adjusted the endotracheal tube and then, moved the stethoscope now listening for the heart sounds. They were distant, almost muffled sounding.

"No pulse," Sandy said, her fingers over the carotid artery in his neck feeling for a pulse.

Regina looked up at the medical student standing by the foot of the stretcher. "Andy, start compressions."

Eager to help out the medical student ran over to the stretcher, crossed his hands over the patientís sternum and started pumping on the chest.

Dr. Washington pushed the doors open and ran into the room already dressed in his protective garb. "What do we have?"

"He needs a chest tube on the left," Regina replied quickly, continuing her exam.

"Give me a scalpel," Dr. Washington said, holding out his hand. Thomas reached across the stretcher, handing him the instrument.

"Letís get two peripheral lines going wide open. Sandy, get a Dopamine drip started. Thomas, draw blood for a CBC, lytes and tox screen, type and cross-match for four units." Regina ordered. "He needs a foley catheter and call radiology for a cross table c-spine."

Sandy ran to the code cart and broke open the plastic lock. She yanked out a handful of syringes and drug ampoules. There was a flurry of activity as Reginaís orders were carried out around her. One of the other nurses in the room inserted the IV lines while Sandy set up the drip that would sustain the patientís blood pressure.

Regina was busy running her hands down the manís head and neck looking and feeling for anything that might be abnormal. She noticed the obviously distended jugular veins in the manís neck and immediately, she knew it meant that his heart muscle was damaged and blood was filling the sac around it effectively choking the muscle. "Sandy I need a fifty cc syringe with a 16-gauge needle and call the OR. Tell them weíve got a possible cardiac tamponade coming."

Dr. Washington glanced up quickly. "You sure about that?"

"Yes, heís got jugular distension and his blood gases arenít responding with the chest tube."

Sandy tossed the packaged syringe to Regina then grabbed the receiver off the wall phone. Regina ripped the packaging off the syringe and land marked the tip of the xyphoid process at the end of the sternum with her gloved fingers as Sandy was dialing the number for the OR. Thomas leaned over and squirted betadine on the patientís chest.

Her hands trembled slightly and she took a steadying breath as she checked the monitor again. "Andy, stop compressions." She was very aware of everyoneís eyes watching her and waiting. As the medical student stepped back, Regina pierced the skin, angling the syringe up towards the heart. She pulled back on the plunger, guiding the needle with steady pressure from her hands.

Crimson blood spurted into the syringe rapidly filling it and she held the needle steady.

"Nice call, Kingston." Dr. Washington looked up from suturing the chest tube into place.

"Whatís his pressure?" Regina asked, feeling some of the tension slide away with the knowledge that she had made the right diagnosis and bought the patient a few more minutes. She knew the blood would keep re-filling the sac around his heart.

"Eighty over fifty." Sandy said.

Dr. Washington was just finishing suturing the chest tube in place when the surgical team arrived. To Regina it seemed like forever, but in reality it had been minutes since the patient arrived in the emergency department. Within a matter of seconds, they got a quick history and then patient was whisked away to the OR to try to repair the damage to the heart.

The quiet trauma room was in stark contrast to the chaos that was present minutes before. Reginaís shoulders sagged as the adrenaline left her body.

"Nice job, Regina." Dr. Washington stripped off his gloves and gown tossing them into the garbage, then walked out of the room following another stretcher as it was rolled past the room.

Sandy walked over to her and patted her on the shoulder. "Twenty-two minutes, thatís damn good, Dr. Kingston." Regina stared blankly at Sandy as she bent over to pick up the bloodied gauze and packaging that scattered on the floor. Sandy looked back up at her. "Dr. Margulies is the only one who has broken twenty minutes for getting them in and out of the ER as fast as that."

"I wasnít aware there was a competition for fastest triage and transfer to the operating room." Regina said, rolling her eyes. Thirty minutes was their cut off in the ER, anything above that and they were wasting the so-called Ďgolden momentí and would most likely have their heads handed to them on a platter.

Dr. Jameson strode through the doors. "Dr. Washington just told me. Good pick up on the tamponade, Dr. Kingston."

"Thanks," Regina replied, as she pulled the bloodied gloves and isolation gown from her body. She threw the gown into the dirty linen bag and walked to the sink to wash her hands.

"Iíve known plenty of more experienced doctors who thought they could perform a thoracotomy in the emergency department. Usually itís not a good idea." Dr. Jameson walked up behind her.

Regina leaned on the sink feeling a wave of nausea roll through her. She splashed some water on her face, only half listening to the medical directorís words.

"Ah, doctor Margulies." Dr. Jameson turned and eyed her as she walked through the doors. "I was just telling Dr. Kingston here about that unfortunate incident you had last year in the emergency department."

Regina looked up from the sink in surprise and saw Alex standing by the door still in her bloodied scrubs from the last admission. Her face was expressionless, arms folded across her chest as she looked at Dr. Jameson.

"Yes, I think that fiasco made it all the way to the medical examining committee." Dr. Jameson turned to Regina. "Did she share that with you yet Dr. Kingston? Well?"

Regina looked away from Alex suddenly feeling that she had unwittingly stepped into the middle of some battle. "IÖI donít know what youíre talking about," she lied.

"Itís quite an interesting story. You should share it with her sometime, Alex." His eyes flicked to the attending and narrowed. "Too bad you werenít as competent as your resident here, Alex. Might have been a different outcome for the mayorís son."

A hush filled the room and suddenly, the ticking of the clock and the drip of water from the faucet into the stainless steel sink seemed to grow louder. Regina moved away from the sink, muttered something about having another patient to check on, and made a hasty retreat from the room, leaving the two doctors facing each other.

Alex locked eyes with the medical director and for a moment, she contemplated sending him through the glass doors for his asinine remarks. Sheíd been exonerated of any wrong doing that night. In fact, the medical review board found the charges that Dr. Jameson made to be frivolous. Alex stepped closer to the medical director fixing her eyes on him. She could see his throat work as he swallowed nervously.

"Nowís your chance Alex. Nobody else is around," he said, goading her.

"Is that was this is about?" she asked, stepping closer so he had to look up at her. "You want me out of here. Well, youíre going to have to do a better job than this Jim," she drawled. "Besides, thatís ancient history." She turned and headed toward the door. "You know youíre dead wood as far as the administration is concerned. Itís just a matter of time before they ask for your resignation, you know, invite you to leave." She smiled over her shoulder as she let the door slam noisily behind her.

Regina walked unsteadily over to the nurseís station thankful to have escaped the unfolding drama in room seven. The hostility between the two doctors was palpable and she was sure Dr. Jameson was trying to gain her support against Dr. Margulies. She heard rumors from the nurses that his job might be on the line and he was working hard to deflect any scrutiny away from him. She made a mental note to stay as far away from that situation as possible.

She entered her id number into the computer and flicked through several screens with the penlight until she came to her list of patients. She ran through the list, clicking on several names to check on pending lab results. Grimacing, she felt another wave of nausea sweep over her. Oh lovely, right on cue, an hour after every dose. Regina reached a hand out steadying herself against the monitor in front of her as she felt herself break out into a cold sweat. Damn.

Glancing up at the doctor, the unit clerk touched her arm. "You ok, Dr. Kingston?"

Regina nodded her head and swallowed hard. "Fine, just fine." She became aware of a warm presence at her back and turned her head slightly to see who was behind her. Her heart rate quickened as she saw the dark hair and the piercing blue eyes regarding her patiently.

"I need to talk to you," Alex said, looking down at her.

Regina mentally cursed herself, knowing that this was most likely her comeuppance for yelling at her chief attending. She kept her interactions with the brooding doctor to a minimum since that episode a couple of weeks ago in the hopes that she could avoid another confrontation.

Regina braced herself for the worst. "Ok." She turned slowly around so she was facing Alex.

Alex lowered her eyes for a minute and then looked back up at Regina. "Not here. In the staff lounge," she said, nodding her head in that direction.

Regina felt her stomach drop and her palms started to sweat. Shit. She waved her arm in front of her. "Lead the way." She was aware of several people giving her wary glances as she walked by them.

Alex held the door open for her and motioned her into the room. Regina walked past her and crossed her arms over her chest.

"Ok, so what did I do now?" she asked, turning to face Alex with as much bravado as she could muster. "It must be pretty bad since you didnít just filet me out there in front of everybody."

Alexís eyes widened slightly and she took a breath. "Sit down," she said, indicating the chair next to Regina.

"Iíd rather stand, thank you," Regina said, feeling her heart pound a little faster.

Alex shrugged and sat on the stool. "Suit yourself." She folded her hands letting them hang down between her legs. "What makes you think you did anything wrong?" Her voice was quiet.

Regina let out a nervous laugh. "Dr. Margulies, I havenít worked here very long, but Iíve learned one thing very quickly: You donít talk very much, but when you do its usually because somebodyís screwed up and youíre here to let them know about it." Regina took a breath. Shit, why do I have to ramble so much when I get nervous? "So?" Her head was pounding and she desperately wanted to get this over with.

Alex rolled her eyes up to Reginaís. "I wanted to apologize for how I spoke to you that night in the in the hall. I was upset about something and I took it out on you. Iím sorry."

Regina groaned inwardly as the doctorís mouth started to move. "Excuse me?" she asked, convinced she heard wrong.

"I said I wanted to apologize to you. I shouldnít have spoken to you the way
I did. You were right." Alex repeated, frowning as she watched Reginaís complexion pale.

Regina closed her eyes and swayed slightly. Her stomach was threatening an all out revolt and she stepped back away from the chair and headed to the door. She could feel the color drain from her face as she ran past the doctor sitting on the stool.

"Dr. Kingston?" Alex raised her eyebrows, and turned on her stool as she watched Reginaís reaction in obvious confusion. The young doctor ran across the hall to the bathroom and pushed the door open.

Regina stumbled through the stall door. She braced herself over the toilet and vomited. At least when this happened in college it was because Iíd been praying to the porcelain goddess, promising Iíd never drink that much again. Regina flushed the toilet and stood up, steadying herself against the metal door. She staggered to the sink still feeling lightheaded and ran the cold water, cupping her hands and splashing it over her face with trembling hands.

"Regina?"

The resident jumped at the sound of her name, unaware that Alex followed her into the bathroom. She grabbed onto the sink to stay upright as the room spun with her sudden movement. Raising her head, she saw the reflection of Alex standing behind her with a concerned look on her face.

Regina groaned and bent over resting her head against the sink. "Oh god. Why is it you always see me at my worst?"

Alex stepped beside her and looked at her eyes closely. "DidÖIÖI upset you that much?"

Regina almost laughed. "Donít flatter yourself. No itísÖ" She didnít finish the words as she stumbled back to the stall as another bout doubled her over. This time strong hands were there to steady her as she stood up and walked unsteadily back to the sink. "Itís the medication."

"How long has this been going on?" Alex demanded.

Regina leaned against the coolness of the tiles and closed her eyes. "A couple of weeks. I got something from one of the other doctors, but it hasnít helped much," she said weakly.

"Why didnít you tell me? I couldíve given you something to stop it," the taller woman said.

Regina opened her eyes and cocked an eyebrow at her. "No offense Dr. Margulies, but you werenít top on my list of someone to ask for help."

Alex fingered the ties of her scrub pants looking at them intently. "I guess I deserved that, huh?" she asked, feeling badly that Regina hadnít told her that the medication was doing this to her.

Regina nodded. "That and maybe a stronger dose of Haldol."

"Ok, point taken." Alex knew how most of the staff felt about her. She really didnít care that much. Sheíd never viewed any of them as friends, so if they thought she was a bitch it was their problem. "Hey!" She stepped forward and caught Regina as she slumped to the floor.

"Ungh. Oh, this feels awful. Itís not usually this bad." The young doctor clutched her head, as the throbbing got worse behind her eyes.

Alex knelt down in front of her and lifted Reginaís chin with her fingers, looking at her face. "Youíre probably dehydrated. Iím going to get you something that will take care of the nausea and then youíre going home."

Regina pushed her hand away, embarrassed by the attention she had drawn to herself. "I canít go home. Iíve still got patients to see," she objected.

Alex shook her head. "Not today you donít. Marcus and the others can take care of them for you. Come on."

Regina reluctantly let herself be pulled up from the floor and led from the bathroom toward one of the exam rooms.

"This is stupid," she complained, still feeling woozy and stumbling as her feet refused to cooperate. Alex wrapped one arm around her waist and the other was holding her elbow as she directed her to one of the stretchers.

"Lay down," she ordered, as she set Regina down on the stretcher. Alex rolled up the sleeve of Reginaís lab coat and wiped her skin with an alcohol pad.

"Hey, what are you doing?" Regina protested, struggling to sit up.

Alex put a hand on her shoulder and pressed her back down to the stretcher. "Iím giving you some IV fluid. Itíll make you feel better until I get the medication for you. Stay still." Alex felt for the vessel and slipped the needle inside holding it in place until she secured the IV catheter with some tape. "There."

Regina raised her head looking down at her arm in surprise. "You did it already?"

Alex grinned at her. "Yup. Relax." Hanging the IV bag from the pole she patted Reginaís shoulder. "Iíll be back in a little bit." She pulled a blanket out of one of the cabinets and tossed it over Reginaís legs.

Shivering, Regina reached down and pulled the blanket up over her shoulders. The fluids from the IV were making her chilly. The door opened and Regina watched as Sandy walked into the room.

"Hey, you ok, Dr. Kingston? AlÖDr. Margulies said to come check on you." She leaned over the rails of the gurney and felt Reginaís forehead.

"Yeah," Regina said. Her voice was shaky.

"Dr. Margulies is getting Marcus to cover your patients for you." Sandy smiled and stepped closer. "So what happened?" Sandy leaned on the rails of the stretcher with her arms crossed. "We thought you were a dead woman when she asked you to go into the lounge with her."

Regina shrugged. "It was so weird. I thought she was going to yell at me. She actually apologized for reaming me out in front of the department."

"She what?" Sandy asked. Her jaw dropped. "My god, hell must have frozen over. The infamous Dr. Margulies apologizes?" She started to say more, but the door opened and Alex walked in carrying a white bag from the employee pharmacy.

"Here, this will make your nausea better." She thrust the bag at Regina and shot daggers at Sandy, who squeezed Reginaís arm and backed quickly out of the room winking at her from behind Alexís back.

"Thanks." Regina tried to sit up, but the room tilted crazily around her and she slumped back to the pillow with a groan.

Alex stood awkwardly at the side of the stretcher. She checked the IV bag and adjusted the flow of the fluids. "I took care of getting Marcus to cover your patients."

Regina looked up at her. "You donít have to stay here, Dr. Margulies. I can take this out when itís done." She motioned to the IV and letting her hand drop weakly into her lap.

"Stop with the ĎDr. Marguliesí, youíre making me feel old. Call me Alex." She gripped one of the rails on the gurney and looked down. "You look as white as a sheet. Besides, you didnít drive to work, did you?"

"HÖhow did you know that?" Regina asked.

"I saw you this morning when I came back from running. You were walking across the street. You live up in the apartments on the hill?"

"Yeah, I do." Regina was a little shocked that Alex seemed to know this much about her. She blinked and took a breath, trying to get her vision to cooperate.

"Let me get my Jeep and Iíll give you a ride home," Alex said and left the room before Regina could utter a protest.

She must have closed her eyes and dozed off again, because when she opened them Alex was bending over her arm removing the IV.

"I need to get my bag," Regina said as Alex put a band-aid over the tiny hole left by the needle.

"Ok." Alex stood at the edge of the stretcher looking down at her.

Regina tentatively swung her legs over the edge of the stretcher and sat up. After a moment the wave of dizziness passed and she tried her legs, which surprisingly held her up, even though she felt like they were made of rubber.

At her locker, Regina fumbled with her lock and managed to open it after a couple of tries. She pulled out her backpack and slipped it over her shoulder, then shut the door and let Alex guide her out to her Jeep.

It was a cobalt blue Grand Cherokee with tinted windows, not one of the newer models, Regina noted, slightly surprised. Most of the doctors on staff drove only the newest cars. You could tell what the new models from the car dealerships were by just looking in the doctorís parking lot. Alex pressed her remote and the Jeep chirped as it unlocked itself. She opened the door and helped Regina up into the leather seat. Shutting the door, Alex jogged around to the other side, and got in.

"Ok, just tell me which street you live on," she said as she pulled the vehicle out of the emergency entrance and drove up around the traffic circle to the light. She waited until it turned green and accelerated across the intersection, muttering to herself as she slowed to a stop as a family of Canadian geese started to cross the road that led into the development. Drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, Alex counted five of the little things.

Regina giggled as she watched them. "Theyíre cute."

"No theyíre not." Alex said. "Theyíre nasty, dirty and make a mess."

"Yeah, I guess they do." Regina watched the last one of the little yellow fluff balls hop up onto the curb. "Iím the third street up on the left."

Alex nodded and turned on her signal before making the left turn. Regina pointed out her driveway and Alex pulled up to the garage and turned off the ignition. Opening the door, Regina stepped down out of the Jeep, grabbing hold of the door to steady herself as her legs threatened to give out on her again. Slowly, she made her way to the door of the condo, Alex following, carrying her backpack and the medication. Regina unlocked the door, pushed it open, and stepped inside.

"You can put my bag on the couch," she said, as she walked straight into the bathroom and shut the door.

Alex winced as she heard wretching noises from behind the door. A few minutes later, Regina walked back into the living room, wiping her face with a wet towel, holding onto the wall for support.

"Itís never been this bad." Regina made her way to the couch and sat down holding her head between her legs.

"Where are your glasses? Iíll get you some water."

Regina raised her head and squeezed her eyes shut as the sudden movement made the room swim around her again. "First cabinet on the right. Oh, Iíve got to stop doing that."

"Doing what?" Alex asked, looking back at her.

"Moving my head so fast. I keep getting dizzy."

She heard the sound of the cabinet door open and close, followed by the sound of running water. Footsteps approached her and the cushion beside her sank down. Alex picked the bag off the couch and handed Regina the glass to hold.

Reginaís hand trembled as she held the glass. She set it down on her legs, using both hands to keep from spilling it.

Tearing open the bag, Alex pulled out the bottle and tried removing the childproof lid. "They practically make these damn things adult proof," she complained as the lid flew off and skittered across the floor. She knelt down and retrieved it from underneath the chair.

"Here." She shook a pill out into Reginaís hand. Regina tossed the pill in her mouth and washed it down with a gulp of water. She tilted her head back and slumped against the cushion of the couch.

"Iím sorry, Alex."

"What are you sorry for?" Alex asked, turning to look at Reginaís pale and sweaty face.

"Iíve been nothing but one problem after another since I got on the rotation. Youíll probably be glad when Iím off it," Regina said. She wondered miserably how many residents had the dubious distinction of being driven home sick by their attending. She sunk down lower against the cushion of the couch at the thought.

Alex frowned and looked at the woman sprawled against the back on the couch. "Thatís not true. Youíre competent, you have good clinical instincts and you havenít let any of this other stuff affect the quality of your work."

Regina was quiet for a minute taking it all in. "Thanks." She rested her head against her forearm and closed her eyes. They were quiet for a few minutes as Regina drifted in and out of wakefulness.

"Thanks for bringing me home, Alex," Regina said, before finally drifting off to sleep.

Alex waited until Reginaís breathing became strong and even, then stood up from the couch. She knelt down beside the blonde and moved her onto her side.

She propped a pillow under Reginaís head, slipped her sneakers off and pulled the green and blue checkered afghan off the back of the couch and covered her with it.

Alex gave her one last look before she slipped out the door, shutting it quietly behind her.

Regina woke several hours later in the dark. She lifted her head up and looked around her, trying to figure out where she was. Rolling over, she felt her legs tangle in the afghan.

Regina reached up and turned on the lamp next to the couch. Blinking her eyes, she looked around and realized that Alex had covered her with the throw and taken her shoes off for her.

Regina gingerly sat up and let her body adjust to being upright. "Wow. I donít feel sick anymore." She laughed a little to herself and proceeded to go to the refrigerator, where she raided the leftover chow mien that she had from the night before.

Part 5

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