A New Life
None of the ER characters belong to me. I am not making any money from this. None of this is canon. Please be kind, this is my first fan fiction. I'm very thin skinned.
Robert Romano was standing in the ambulance bay, trying to compose himself after being close to a helicopter again when he heard the explosion above his head. He looked up to see the burning helicopter plunging towards him. His instincts kicked in just in time to save him. He lunged for the dumpster that was parked near the ambulance bay and jumped in it, closing the lid just before the impact of the helicopter shook the area. The explosion caused him to hit his head on the side of the dumpster, and everything went black.
Robert awoke later, unsure of where he was and what had happened. He cautiously lifted the lid of the dumpster and climbed out. He brushed as much of the garbage from his clothing that he could and straightened his lab coat. He was stiff and sore from his accident, and his head was throbbing. The ambulance bay was dark, some of the lights had been broken by the explosion, but he could make out a large area of debris where the helicopter had crashed. Firefighters were still sifting through the smoldering wreckage. His knees became weak when he realized how close he had come to being killed and he had to lean on the dumpster to keep from collapsing. He heard a group of people talking about the crash, and about him.
"I can't believe he is dead". This was the unmistakable voice of Elizabeth Corday.
"Are they sure he was out here when it happened?" Robert was sure this voice belonged to Kerry Weaver.
"Yes, he was out here just before it happened." answered Dr. Morris.
"I guess the helicopter finally got him." joked Frank.
"That's horrible!" replied Kovac. "Romano wasn't the nicest guy, but he sure didn't deserve this."
"No, he didn't. This is awful." whispered Elizabeth. She sounded like she was almost in tears.
They thought HE was dead! His first thought was to go to his colleagues and tell them he was alive. Actually, his first thought was to sneak up on the group of people and shout BOO! He chuckled to himself when he thought of their reactions, but he stopped and thought for a minute. Dead. This could be the answer to so many of his problems. He hated his job now. He couldn't be a surgeon anymore. Why not be dead? No more Pratt. No more Kerry Weaver. No more interns. He had that bank account in the Caymans, money he had put aside from investments instead of paying income tax on it. His car keys were in his lab coat pocket, all he would have to do is make his way to his car and go home. He reconsidered when he realized that this would give away the fact that he was still alive. He would have to walk a few blocks, and then catch a taxi home.
As luck would have it, he had to walk over 6 blocks before he could hail a passing taxi. He kept the collar on his lab coat turned up, and his face down so that no one would recognize him. He did his best to ignore the driver's comments about the way he looked and smelled. After being in a dumpster he knew he didn't smell very good, but he really didn't care. He kept his lab coat drawn close to his body, hoping to disguise the fact that he had an artificial arm. The cab driver might not remember picking up a grubby looking doctor, but he would remember picking up a one armed doctor.
As he unlocked the door to his apartment, he was careful to make as little noise as possible. He didn't want any of his neighbors to hear him. He knew he couldn't take much with him, and he couldn't take anything that would make it obvious that he had been home. Not that anyone from work knew what he had in his apartment; he had never invited anyone from work to his home. He also knew he could not use his credit cards, but he did have a fair amount of cash in his safe. He hurriedly packed a suitcase, tossing in a few family photos, making sure that he didn't leave marks in the dust where the frames had sat. Robert also grabbed a few favorite CDs, taking care to move the others around so there were no obvious gaps. He quickly took a shower and changed his clothes, making sure he stuffed his filthy lab coat in the bottom of the hamper where it would draw less attention from whoever was chosen to take care of his apartment. Pausing at the door, he took one last look at the apartment, asking himself again if this was what he really wanted to do. He could put the suitcase down, and return to the hospital. He could tell his co-workers that he had been knocked unconscious by the explosion and was still alive. But he knew in his heart that he did not want to do that. He knew he was free of his life at the hospital, and that his was his chance to start over. His life as a surgeon had been ended by a helicopter, but as fate would have it, a helicopter had given him a chance at a new life. He didn't have anyone in Chicago who would miss him. Gretel had died a few months earlier and he didn't have any family left. He quietly closed and locked the door to his apartment and made his way downstairs to catch a taxi to O'Hare.
The airport was busy as usual as he made his way to the ticket counter. "Good evening sir, how may I help you?" asked the attractive young woman behind the ticket counter.
"I need a one way ticket to Grand Cayman." Romano replied, trying not to look as nervous as he felt.
"Certainly, sir, will you be traveling alone"? asked the ticket agent.
"Yes, I am" he calmly replied. The ticket agent checked his ID and then handed him his ticket. Fortunately his only bag was small enough to carry on so he would not need to bother with checking it.
He smiled to himself as he made his way to the gate. He had done it; he was finally going to be free of the constant reminders that he was no longer a surgeon. As he settled himself into the seat of the plane he allowed himself to relax, he was on his way to his new life. The stress of the accident must have exhausted him more than he thought because the next thing he knew he was waking up as the plane made it's decent into the airport on Grand Cayman. After the plane had taxied to its gate and stopped, Romano grabbed his bag from the overhead compartment and joined the other travelers as they left the plane. He made his way though the bustling airport and hailed a taxi.
"Where to, sir?" asked the driver.
"Grand Cayman bank" he replied.
The driver began pointing out all of the usual sites of interest to tourists. Normally Robert would have told the driver to shut-up, but allowed himself to relax and enjoy the ride. As the taxi pulled up in front of the bank, Robert paid the driver and even gave him a generous tip. "I'll only be here for a few minutes, how about waiting for me so you can take me to a hotel?" The driver was only too happy to oblige, hoping that the tip at the hotel would be as generous.
Romano entered the bank and headed for the nearest teller's desk. He would keep the account open, but needed some cash for the hotel, meals and clothes. The teller was only too happy to oblige once she had seen the account balance, and realized that the customer was not planning on closing the account. He left the bank and saw that his driver was still waiting for him.
"Can you recommend a good hotel, on the beach, but with plenty of privacy?" Robert asked the driver.
"Yes sir, I know just the place." the driver replied as he sped off down the street. The taxi pulled up in front of a nice hotel. True to his word, the hotel was on the beach, but since it was at the end of the street and did not seem very busy. Romano once again exited the taxi and gave his driver a very generous tip. He entered the lobby, pausing briefly as he got his bearings, and approached the desk.
"May I help you sir?" asked the young man behind the desk.
"Yes, I need a room, preferably on the ground floor, something with plenty of privacy." replied Robert.
"Would you like one of our cabanas sir? You would have all the privacy you could want." offered the desk clerk.
"That would be perfect; I will need it for at least a month." As Robert paid the desk clerk he realized that he was going to need more clothes than he had brought with him. He asked the desk clerk where a good clothing store was, and after getting the name of the store he proceeded to his cabana.
Robert left his bag in the room and headed out to buy some clothes and a few other items he would need. The desk clerk was right about the clothing store. Robert was able to purchase several sets of clothing. After leaving that store, he made his way to a small store where he was able to buy toiletries and a few books to help him pass the time.
He returned to his room, put his clothes and other purchases away and decided to call room service rather than go out for his evening meal. Even though he had slept on the plane, he was still too tired to make the effort to go out again. He picked up the phone, called room service and ordered a small steak, baked potato and a salad. He decided to splurge on a bottle of wine to help him wind down.
After eating his dinner and finishing almost half of the wine, Robert stretched out on the bed with one of his books. He had only read a few pages when he gave up. He was too distracted to read. Thoughts of what had happened earlier in the day kept disturbing him. He finally gave up and got ready for bed. As he was dozing off, he wondered how Elizabeth was handling his death.
SIX MONTHS LATER
Robert opened the door to his apartment. He had found a wonderful place to live on the beach. He spent a great deal of his time either on the beach or on his balcony overlooking the beach. He fixed himself a drink and headed to the balcony. He eased into his chair, relaxing and enjoying the sunset. He had moved from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac, hoping to diminish the chances of running into someone he knew. At first he had loved the fact that he didn't have to rush off to work everyday, but then he began to get bored, tired of doing nothing, so he decided to open his own clinic. It wasn't exactly working in the ER in Chicago, but it kept him busy and kept him in medicine. His patients were mostly tourists, but he also worked with some of the local citizens who could not afford other health care. He chuckled himself when he thought of the reaction of his colleagues. If they knew he was working with people who could not afford medical care, and actually enjoying it, they would not believe it.
He grew serious as he thought of the day he "died". Elizabeth was the only one of the group he had overheard who sounded even a little sad at the thought of him being dead. Lizzie. How he missed her. What was she doing now? Was she dating someone? Was she even still in Chicago or had she gone back to England? He had started subscribing to the Chicago Sun Times soon after he got his apartment. He had a need to know what was going on back home. Home. Chicago. He knew he couldn't go back; he really didn't even want to go back. He just missed Elizabeth.
TWO YEARS LATER
The group of high school students from St. Louis got off of the charter plane. They were here with their teachers and chaperones as part of a student exchange program. They were laughing and joking with each other, excited about being in such a different place.
"Kids, let's all stay together" shouted Mrs. Saunders, their teacher. "We will all head inside the airport to pick up our luggage then catch the bus to our hotel."
There were 4 girls and 4 boys in the group, along with three chaperones and their teacher. They hurried inside to get their luggage, and then boarded their charter bus for their beach-front hotel.
"Hey, Rachel" called Ellie, as they entered their room and dumped their suitcases on the beds. "Have you ever been so far from home, without your parents before?"
Rachel Greene opened the sliding door to the balcony before answering her friend. "Nope, what about you?
Bouncing on the bed, Ellie answered her friend, "One time, when I went to Europe with my grandmother, but she wouldn't let me out of her sight."
There was a knock on the door before Mrs. Saunders stuck her head in. "Let's get settled in girls, then we can explore before dinner.
Early the next morning the students were awakened by their chaperones so they could start the school day in their new school. They were only going to be there for 2 weeks so they wanted to experience everything they could before heading back to St. Louis.
It was another beautiful day in paradise as Robert hurried on his way to the clinic. He was running late, something he never did. He had been delayed by a bunch of kids on their way to school. The funny thing was, one of the girls had looked so familiar to him. He knew if he thought long enough, he would figure out who she looked like.
Rachel Greene was unusually quiet as she entered the school. "Hey, Rachel, what's up with you?" asked her friend Ellie. "Aren't you excited about being here?"
Rachel, still lost in thought didn't hear her friend. Ellie gave her a push and repeated her question. "Sure I am Ellie." But her thoughts were obviously elsewhere. While she was walking down the street with the other kids, Rachel had seen a man who looked a lot like Dr. Romano from the hospital in Chicago. Rachel knew this was impossible because Dr. Romano had been killed by a helicopter over 2 years ago. Rachel decided to put this nonsense behind her and concentrate on her exchange program.
Two weeks had passed, and the students were getting ready to return home. Rachel was still thinking about the man she had seen. She wanted to see if she could see him again and since this was their last day here, this would be her final chance. As the group walked to school, Rachel lagged behind, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man. Rachel knew that if it really was Dr. Romano that she had seen, he probably didn't want anyone to know that he was still alive. She had to make sure he did not see her.
Robert Romano been unable to figure out whom the girl looked like and had put the mystery out of his mind. As he walked down the sidewalk to the clinic he once again saw the group of school kids.
As they were about to enter the gates of the school, Rachel took one last look back. There, walking down the sidewalk was the man who looked so much like Dr. Romano. Rachel froze in her tracks. It was Dr. Romano. She knew it was. Dr. Romano had lost an arm in a helicopter accident and this man obviously had an artificial arm. Not wanting him to see her staring, she hurried into the school.
Dr. Elizabeth Corday returned home after a hectic day at work. After she paid the babysitter and got Ella settled with her dinner, she checked the phone messages. She was surprised to find one from Rachel.
"Elizabeth, it's Rachel, could you please call be back as soon as you get home. It's really important."
Elizabeth hesitated, it had been a rough day at work, and she wasn't sure she had the patience to deal with Rachel. She knew that if Mark were still alive he would have called his daughter back as soon as he got the message from her. Taking a deep breath, she dialed the phone and was surprised when Rachel answered almost immediately.
"Hello, Elizabeth is that you?" Elizabeth returned the greeting and asked the girl how she was doing.
"I'm fine, but you are not going to believe who I saw on my exchange program to the Caymans." She didn't give Elizabeth time to answer before answering her own question. "Dr. Romano!"
Elizabeth took an impatient breath before telling Rachel that this was impossible. Robert Romano was dead.
"No, he's not. I saw him there. It was him." argued Rachel. He even had an artificial arm, just like Dr. Romano."
Elizabeth felt that his must be another ploy of Rachel's to get attention. "Listen sweetie, Robert is dead; you must have seen someone who looked like him." Not having the patience to continue the conversation, Elizabeth ended the call.
Elizabeth had trouble sleeping that night. Not that she believed Rachel's story, but it bothered her that she would make something up like that. Tossing and turning, she finally fell asleep. She dreamed of Robert. In her dreams he was alive. He had avoided being killed by the helicopter.
The next morning, she thought about the accident. Could he have escaped the crash? No, it was impossible. It would have taken a miracle. Still there were some strange things that had happened after his death. First of all, Elizabeth had been extremely surprised to find that she had been named Executrix of his estate. Robert had no close friends or relatives so he must have felt she was the only person he could choose. She had hired a service to clean out and inventory his apartment. She got out of bed, walked across the room and opened the file that had the inventory of his apartment. Curling up in bed with the list, she skimmed it to see if there was anything that might be a clue in this mystery. Sitting up suddenly, she realized that there was one item that should have been on the list. His passport. He traveled and should have a passport, but there wasn't one on the list. Could Rachel be right? Could Robert still be alive? A neighbor had sworn that she saw him after the accident. No one gave it any thought. They all thought the woman must have her days mixed up. But she kept insisting that she had seen Robert leave his apartment with a carry-on suitcase, after his accident.
Elizabeth got out of bed and got ready for work. After feeding Ella, and getting her settled with the sitter, she headed out the door. As she arrived at the hospital, she stopped to look around the ambulance bay. She knew that Robert had been in the ambulance bay when the helicopter crashed. Was there any way that he could have survived the crash? If so, why would he fake his own death?
Robert Romano made his way home after another busy day at the clinic. Nothing major had happened, just the usual childhood injuries, a few sick tourists and one false labor. He hummed to himself as he walked home. He still missed being a surgeon, more than he cared to admit, but he had to admit that he honestly enjoyed what he was doing. He hadn't felt this happy in years. Maybe never. As he opened the door to his apartment, he stopped to pick up the mail that had been dropped through the slot in the door. His copy of the Chicago Sun Times had arrived. He dumped the rest of the mail on the table and settled in his favorite chair to read the newspaper.
Elizabeth Corday shielded her eyes from the bright sunshine as she and Ella walked down the steps of the plane at Grand Brac airport. She was still berating herself for believing that Robert could still be alive. She had called Rachel a week ago, trying to sound casual as she asked the girl where she had seen the man she thought looked like Robert. Rachel told her where she had seen him and insisted that it was Robert Romano that she saw. Rachel had spent enough time in the ER to know what Robert looked like. Elizabeth walked into the terminal and picked out her bags, then walked out and hailed a taxi. She asked him to take her to the same hotel Rachel had stayed at during her trip.
After getting settled into her room, she realized that Ella needed a nap before she could begin her search for Robert. She hated to admit it, but she could use a rest herself.
An hour later she awoke, feeling refreshed. Ella stirred next to her on the bed. "Wake up sweetie" she whispered softly to her daughter. After changing her clothes, she and Ella made their way down to the lobby. She stopped briefly at the desk to ask if the hotel had a stroller for Ella, and after being given one, she placed Ella in it. Exiting the hotel, she relished the warm, sunny weather that greeted her. The weather here was so much better than the weather in Chicago. As she pushed the stroller down the street in the general direction that Rachel said she had seen Robert, she began to worry. How would she approach him if she did see him? What would she say to him? She was so lost in thought that she almost didn't notice the small clinic that she passed. She saw the sign for the clinic out of the corner of her eye. "The Phoenix Clinic." She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. "The Phoenix Clinic." It would be just like Robert to name his clinic after a bird that had risen from the ashes of a fire. She hesitated briefly, gathering her courage before she entered the clinic.
"May I help you?" asked the nurse behind the desk.
"Yes, I am on vacation here and my daughter is not feeling well after the plane trip" Elizabeth replied.
"Have a seat and fill out this form, the Doctor will be with you in a moment" the woman replied with a smile.
Elizabeth did as she was asked, still not sure if she as doing the right thing. If Robert were alive, how would she handle the situation? If he were not alive, how would she explain bringing a healthy child to a doctor? A few moments later, a nurse came out and called her into the exam room. She settled in with Ella, answering the nurse's questions, hoping that she did not figure out that there was nothing wrong with the child.
"The doctor will be with you in a moment." With that, the nurse left the room and closed the door.
A few minutes later there was a knock at the room, and the door opened to reveal Dr. Robert Romano. It was a toss up to see who was more surprised, Robert or Elizabeth.
Robert Romano didn't know whether to hug her, or turn and run. Elizabeth Corday was the last person he expected to find in his exam room. Then it hit him. The girl he had seen a few weeks ago, it was Rachel Greene. She must have seen him and told Elizabeth. His charade was up.
Elizabeth Corday was glad that she was not standing up when Robert walked into the room. She would have fainted for the first time in her life. Robert Romano was alive and standing right in front of her.
"So, Lizzie, you caught me." He said, attempting to ease the tension with a joke.
Ella began to wiggle on her lap, starting to get restless.
Suddenly, she was so angry at him. How dare he do this to her? She stood up; planning on walking out of the exam room, but Robert blocked her way.
"Please Elizabeth; don't go, not like this." The expression on his face stopped her. He looked so lost and alone.
"Robert, why did you do this?" "How could you hurt me this way?" she asked.
"Elizabeth, not here, please meet me someplace after work. Where are you staying?"
Elizabeth gave him the name of the hotel and her room number. He promised to meet her there after he got off work. They would hire a babysitter from the hotel and have a quiet dinner together. He would explain everything.
She made her way back to the hotel, still stunned by the fact that Robert really was alive. She made arrangement with the hotel for a babysitter in her room. She could not decide what to wear that evening. Exactly what did one wear when they celebrated someone's return from the dead? Getting ready for dinner, she still could not believe the events of the day. Just a few hours ago, she had thought Robert was dead. Now even though she had seen him and spoken to him, she still had trouble believing that he was alive.
Robert returned home from work, showered and got dressed for his dinner with Elizabeth. He was terrified about meeting Elizabeth again. How would he explain his choice to fake his death?
He closed the door to his apartment and headed to the hotel to meet Elizabeth. Part of him wanted to rush to Elizabeth, apologize for hurting her. Part of him wanted to pack up and run instead of facing her. He knew she was very angry with him. He also knew he deserved her anger. When he had decided to fake his death and leave Chicago, he never thought that he would ever have to face the people he had worked with. He never really thought that he had hurt any of them. He thought they would be glad that he was dead. He was obviously wrong. He had hurt Elizabeth. The last person in the world he would ever want to hurt.
He knocked on her door, his heart pounding in his chest. Elizabeth answered the door. To him, she looked even lovelier than she ever had. She was wearing a loose fitting, floral dress. The hotel babysitter was reading a book to Ella.
"Are you ready to go to dinner?" Robert asked. Elizabeth nodded, without saying a word to him.
She turned to the babysitter and explained that they would be back by midnight.
They walked to the elevator without speaking to each other. The ride down to the lobby seemed like it took forever. Neither of them knew what to say to break the ice.
"I hope you don't mind walking, it's not very far to the restaurant." Robert said. Elizabeth assured him that she did not. They walked the remainder of the way in silence.
As they settled into their table at the restaurant, Robert decided that the silence had gone on long enough. "Elizabeth, I am so sorry if I hurt you, but I just had to take the opportunity to start over."
Elizabeth stared at him a moment before breaking her silence. "Robert, you have done some horrible things in your life, but this is a new low for you!" she fumed. "How could you have done this to me?"
Robert started to answer, but was interrupted by their waiter. "Could I get you something from the bar?" he asked.
"A bottle of your finest wine" Robert answered before Elizabeth could say anything.
They waited for the wine to be delivered before they continued their conversation. "Elizabeth, I am so sorry, but I just couldn't take it anymore." "I was no longer a surgeon, and I was totally miserable."
Elizabeth took a drink of her wine before answering him. "Robert that is no excuse for what you did." "I truly thought you were dead." Still having trouble looking her in the eye, Robert gazed into his glass as he swirled the wine around. He knew she was right. What he had done was inexcusable.
He had been so caught up in the moment, so overwhelmed by the idea that he was finally free of a life that had become hell for him that he hadn't thought of how anyone else might react. He started to reply when they were once more interrupted by their waiter.
"May I take your orders?" The couple took this opportunity to check out the menus, hoping to get their emotions under control before they continued their conversation.
"I will have the sea bass" Robert replied.
Elizabeth decided on the grilled Mahi Mahi.
After their waiter had left them again, Robert looked at Elizabeth. He knew that there was very little chance of her forgiving him. This was the woman he loved more than anything else in this world and he had hurt her badly. Dinner was eaten in silence. After paying the bill, Robert asked Elizabeth if she would like to take a walk on the beach. She agreed.
As they walked along the beach the silence between them continued to grow. Finally, they stopped at a secluded spot. "Please, sit down Elizabeth and let me try to explain."
Elizabeth looked at him for a long moment before complying. The two
He gathered his thoughts for a few moments before continuing. "When that helicopter crashed, I took refuge in the dumpster and I was knocked unconscious. By the time I woke up, you all thought I was dead. I almost approached you then, but I thought, why not let everyone think that I was dead? Most of the people at the hospital would be thrilled. I was no longer a surgeon so my life there didn't mean a lot." Elizabeth started to speak, but Robert stopped her. "Lizzie, I just wasn't thinking clearly. I was so tired of my life. So tired of being miserable that I just didn't stop to think about how it would affect you. And for that I am extremely sorry."
Elizabeth could see his face in the moonlight. She could see the haunted expression in his eyes and knew he was telling the truth. Her anger towards him began to lessen. She thought about how she would feel if she were in his shoes. She remembered how she had felt after Mark had died. A part of her wanted to run away then too. She reached for his hand, squeezing it gently. He looked into her eyes, hardly daring to hope that she would forgive him. He was relieved when he saw forgiveness and understanding in her eyes.
The two of them spent a lot of time together on the island, walking, talking, and watching Ella play in the sand. Robert knew he could never go back to Chicago; his life was here with his clinic. Elizabeth knew that she did not belong on his island paradise, not yet anyway. Maybe someday, when the time was right, she would return and be a part of his life. She was seeing a totally different side of Robert Romano, a side that she was becoming very fond of. When the two of them parted at the airport, Elizabeth promised to keep his secret. She also promised that she would return to him.
Rachel Greene opened the package addressed to her from her step-mother. Inside was the most beautiful heart shaped pendant she had ever seen. There was a note too; "To Rachel, thank you, love Elizabeth."