A/N: Another Halloween special here, straight from the Surgeon verse. Backstory here. Warning for hospital problems ranging from codes to the morgue...
Running a Little Late
"Miss, is the morgue on this floor?"
This question would not have unnerved Musichetta Laurain in the slightest, had she not been at the central supply station, on the third floor of The Hospital Royale "It's downstairs in the basement. Why do you ask?" she said, glancing over her shoulder at the balding man standing behind her.
The man looked from right to left and leaned in before speaking again. "Don't mean to scare you but I've been smelling flowers, the sort from a wake."
Muscichetta took a deep breath and smiled grimly. 'And all the while I thought it was just someone's stale perfume,' she thought. Yet when she looked around, she realized that she was in entirely male company, not likely the sort to settle for such an antiquated scent.
The balding man looked around uneasily once again. "I saw you and your friends running. Did some patients go 50-50 tonight?"
The medical intern sighed as she thought back on the grim scenes of the past hour; it would take a while till her arms would stop aching. "Just a few close calls. Don't mention that too loudly though, Sir," she said in a low voice. "I also smell it too."
The man smiled grimly. "I used to be a patient here too. I pity you kids-up all night, running about."
"Well, say a little prayer for us and the patients here. It's almost All Saints Day," Musichetta replied as she picked up a bottle of IV saline. 'As good a night for omens as any other night,' she told herself as she headed upstairs to help set up a patient's IV line. She caught a glimpse of her watch and frowned on seeing that the time was just past ten in the evening. There were still too many hours left in the night's duty shift before she and her friends could rest easy.
Just as she was stepping out of the ward, she heard the 'ping' of an elevator door opening. She stepped aside to give room for a patient being wheeled by an aide back to the wards, only to nearly crash into a gurney being brought out of an adjacent elevator. She glanced around to make sure that no other person was emerging from the elevators, but to her relief the third elevator remained darkened. After giving herself a once-over, she took a deep breath and continued walking to the interns' quarters on the same floor.
As soon as she opened the door, she caught a whiff of dark chocolate in the air. "Having dessert before dinner already?" she asked her fellow interns.
"No, it's an antidote to tonight's toxicity," one of the boys retorted from the corner where he was rubbing his still aching arms. "Only you four could attract three Code Blues in as many hours."
"Why can't we just say three successful resuscitations?" Joly asked. He smiled at Musichetta as he held out a bar of chocolate. "Do you want some?"
"I'd rather have this," Musichetta said, making a beeline for the bag of peanuts next to Joly. For a moment it occurred to her to kiss his cheek in order to demonstrate another point, but the presence of their fellow interns checked her at the last moment. "How are you two doing?" she asked their two other friends seated at a nearby folding table.
"Toxic," Eponine muttered, looking up from the progress notes she was encoding. She winced and rubbed her temples. "Got any paracetamol?"
"What you need is sleep," Combeferre chimed in sagely before sipping his coffee. "You'll be more productive that way."
Eponine glared at him over her laptop. "I'm finishing these notes before getting some shut-eye, thank you very much. Then you can stop needling me."
"You'll get another migraine."
"Well why don't you help me out here and get me some meds?"
Musichetta sighed as she and Joly exchanged long-suffering looks. The only thing worse than Combeferre and Eponine being a bickering couple was being a bickering recently-broken-up couple. "Your turn or mine?" she asked Joly.
"Yours. I defused a fight five minutes ago," Joly whispered as he broke off a cube of chocolate and handed it to her.
Musichetta nodded before taking the candy and chewing on it. "House rules again, you two!" she snapped at their friends. "Lovers' quarrels outside the hospital, if you please!"
"It's not a quarrel, it's a discussion," Combeferre said tersely.
"Yeah, yeah, and the Great Pumpkin exists," another intern drawled. "Seriously, it's bad enough that you guys attract every emergency call within a ten mile radius."
'Better than attracting boredom,' Musichetta thought even as the other interns began arguing about a whiteboard listing the more difficult admissions of the week. There was no point in a two month rotation in Internal Medicine if one was just going to attend lectures and lounge in the interns' quarters. Before she could reach for another piece of chocolate, she heard the dreaded chiming of the public address system. "Attention! Code Blue in the Emergency Room! Code Blue in the Emergency Room!"
"Oh fuck, why that?" Eponine groused as she closed the laptop. "First the dialysis center, then the parking lot, then the paediatrics ward-"
"At least the defibrillator is already in the ER," Combeferre said as he handed a box of gloves to Eponine. "Come on everybody, let's move!"
Musichetta lost no time in grabbing a pair of rubber gloves as well as a facemask before racing out after the other interns. 'How much longer can our arms hold up?' she wondered, already dreading the fact that they would be the ones performing chest compressions and bagging on the patient while the resident on duty and night nurses manned the defibrillator and administered medications. She figured that the adrenaline rush could only go so far, especially in the unholy hours of the night.
She happened to look back over her shoulder just in time to catch Eponine wincing again as she rubbed her forehead. "You could sit this one out. Watch the ward till we get back," she offered.
"Alain is already doing that," Eponine said, gesturing to where another duty mate had just ventured into a room. "We have to be there. I'll be fine."
"No way you're running down the stairs, you might trip," Joly said as he jogged up to them. "Elevator?"
Musichetta darted across the hall and pressed all the buttons on the elevators, only to have the third one open immediately. "This one guys!" she called to her friends.
Combeferre paused in his tracks. "Are you sure?"
"If we're not downstairs in a minute, we'll be in demerit city!" Joly retorted. This was enough for the four of them to race into the elevator, which shut even before Eponine could press the button.
Musichetta looked around as she caught her breath. "You were saying, Combeferre?"
"I think there's an elevator that the residents don't use after dark," Combeferre muttered as he pressed the button marked 'G'.
"Why?" Eponine asked. "Is there some rule, or is this elevator reserved for patients headed to the OR?"
"I've never seen anyone wheeled in here after dark," Joly chimed in.
Musichetta did not say anything but she kept her eyes trained on the numbers and letters on the elevator, watching them slowly light up. She held her breath as the letter 'G' lit up, but to her consternation the elevator doors did not slide open. "What on earth-"
"Probably just a glitch," Combeferre said before the doors slid open. His eyes went wide as he took in the sight of a yawning blackness before them instead of the bustling hospital lobby. "Where are we?"
"The basement," Eponine said, pointing to the letter 'B' lit up on the elevator display. She pressed the button marked 'G' a few times and swore under her breath. "It's busted."
Joly fumbled in his pockets for his penlight. "Guess we take the stairs or another elevator?"
"If we can even find them," Combeferre said as they cautiously stepped out of the elevator and into a hallway ending at a single door. Before anyone could look around, the elevator doors shut behind them, plunging the corridor into darkness. "Great."
Musichetta backtracked to search for the other elevators but her hands only came up against cold concrete. "Does anyone else have another light?"
"Left mine upstairs," Joly said. "We're so dead one we get to the ER; I don't even know how late we are by now!'
"Wait," Eponine called. In a moment the eerie glow of a cellphone light cut through the darkness. "Better than nothing."
"Right. This hallway has to branch somewhere," Combeferre said uneasily. He looked around and shook his head. "Or not."
"This place has to have a fire exit!" Joly argued. "They can't trap coroners and pathologists down here during a flood or a fire-"
Musichetta rolled her eyes at the boys' ensuing banter even as she began to look around for any sign marking the fire exit. Instead she saw a light from a doorway to the side of the hall. 'That wasn't there earlier!' she realized. Before she could step back she saw a figure clad in the blue of a custodian's uniform walk out into the hall. "Excuse me, but where is the fire exit?" she called.
The custodian, a woman with graying hair tucked up in a bun, smiled at them kindly and jerked her thumb backwards. "Right this way. What are you kids doing in the morgue?"
"We got lost," Musichetta said sheepishly. She tried to get a look at this woman's nameplate but the custodian covered her blouse with her hand which was marked with a sun tattoo. "Thank you Ma'am," she said even as she felt Joly pulling her to the exit.
As soon as they got the emergency room they were met by the resident on duty, who was now livid in the face. "Where have the four of you been?" he roared.
"We tried to take the elevator," Joly began.
"I don't care what-wait, elevator?" the resident asked. "Which one?"
"The third one," Combeferre replied.
The resident swore under his breath. "Fools. Come on, start pumping."
Musichetta adjusted her gloves as she went to join one of the teams administering chest compressions on the patient lying on a gurney. She swallowed hard on seeing the blue tinge of their patient's toenails. "How long?"
"Fifteen minutes down," Combeferre replied. "Her hand though, Chetta. Have you seen it yet?"
Musichetta looked down and shut her eyes at the sight of black rays inking the dying woman's fingers.