Disclaimer: I don't own a single thing here. Sure I created my characters, some hospital lingo was embellished and researched but nothing made me any money. Just enjoy.
A/N: Consider this a warning. I wrote this story because I wanted to. Not because I had anything to prove or thought it prize worthy. It's a silly, romantic fan fic to the very last sentence and yes, my ofc is a Mary Sue in many ways. But you know what, she's adorable and it was fun to write since I based her on someone I actually know (yes Mary Sue's do exist in RL), so it balances out. Continue at your own risk. I will approach flames with a hearty laugh and an insult you won't be able to hear… Just kidding. Maybe.Wildflower
"Crap. I'm late. I'm so late." Natalie cursed as she stuffed her belongings into her bag and scrambled out of the car, slamming the door without a second look. She barely made it into the elevator before it closed and broke out into a run the second it opened on her floor.
Natalie slid up to the counter, shooting Melissa an apologetic smile as she pushed the brown hair back from her eyes.
Melissa's attention was still directed down towards her paper work. "You're late."
"I know. Believe me, I know." She tossed her bag under her arm. "What do you have for me?"
The secretary handed her a stack of metal clipboards. "Those should keep you busy for a while." She tapped the counter with her pen without looking. "The top patient is a Priority One: young male, 23 years old, multiple gunshot wounds and two fractured ribs among other injuries. The list is quite extensive."
Natalie flipped open the file. "Jack Mercer. Does he have family waiting?"
"You could say that." Melissa snorted. She pointed down the hall to her right. "A group of them, brothers I think they said, two adult females, and two kids."
"Anyone talk to them yet?"
"The doctor that proceeded over the OR did, told them it was a sit and wait game and that's exactly what they've been doing."
"How long have they been here?"
Melissa glanced at her watch. "The brothers and one female arrived shortly after the patient… the others later on so I'd say almost nine hours total."
Natalie shut the folder. "Okay. I'm just gonna go throw my stuff into my locker and get started on my runs." She tapped the counter and began walking away, the clipboards tucked firmly under her arm.
Melissa concentrated down at her work again. "Alright, make sure you clock in first though. You're late."
"I know that!"
She washed her hands one more time for good measure and looked up, catching her reflection in the mirror. At least she didn't look like she felt. Her shoulder length brown hair was pulled back in a tight bun, face light with make up. Mother had always said she didn't need to waste time applying it. She learned early that what Mother said usually was what Mother got and so it had stayed that way since high school.
Her green eyes stared back so critically, looking over her thin lips and small nose. She wiggled it in distaste, moving away from the sink.
Natalie placed the used towel into the trashcan, and she readjusted the nametag on her blue hospital scrubs. She never did like how she looked.
She nodded as she passed other workers in the hall, smiling occasionally while she slid the folders into each slot by the doors as she passed. Her eyes caught sight of the large group huddled in the hallway near her last stop. Some were standing; others sitting and she took notice the two kids were passed out in the seats asleep. One man spotted her as she approached, two other men immediately following him.
The first was a handsome man, built with dark brown hair that was brushed back and dark eyes to match. He was dressed in tan boots, dark jeans and a sweater under a half zipped tan leather jacket. The other two men were African-American descent, both tall with dark features, one man wearing a hat while the other stood before her with a shaved head.
The first man took a step forward as she reached the door and slid the folder into the slot. "Can you tell me something? No one will tell us anything else."
She took a step towards the door and shook her head. "I know as much as you do at this point sir. He's in stable condition and resting which I would suggest doing yourself."
"We're not leaving him here by himself."
"Then by all means, don't but at least get some coffee or something to eat. There's a cafeteria on the fourth floor." She turned towards the door.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm going in to check on him."
The man with the shaved head stepped up as well. "Can we come in?"
"I'm afraid not. I-"
"That's bullshit!" The first man spoke again. "We're his family."
"Sir." She quickly shut the door she had cracked. "Mr. Mercer…"
"We're all Mr. Mercer, we're his brothers."
Natalie nodded. "Mr. Mercer, please be patient and let me do my job. I have to check to make sure your brother is comfortable and still resting peacefully. If he is okay and there are no complications I can see, you will be able to visit him as soon as the doctor gives the okay. I will try to make that as soon as possible. I am here to help you. Do you understand?"
He stepped back, running both of his hands through his hair but nodded and instantly the two other men backed down as well. "Thank you."
Natalie nodded. "I'll try to be as quick as possible and then contact the doctor. In the mean time, it might be in your best interest to visit the cafeteria or get some water. The fountain is located down the hall just past the elevators." She gave them a soft smile then stepped inside.
At first glance, Jack Mercer seemed younger than his age of twenty-three years old. He was lying still on the hospital bed, the tubes going in and out of his fragile body. Jack Mercer was good looking for his age, choppy brown hair and soft features. He looked so innocent at that moment that she couldn't help but feel sympathy for everything he had suffered through. She always did when it came to patients, even when she didn't know a single thing about them, sometimes not even their names.
Natalie scolded herself and took a step back. At twenty-three, the man was older than her by two years, he had probably seen more things than she could even imagine. The man might look innocent but from the looks of his family and the company he kept, he was probably anything but that.
Natalie was quick as she checked the machines for his vital signs. His heartbeat was strong, the beeping of the machine steady and, satisfied, she gently lowered his wrist back to his side after she took his pulse.
She escaped the room, head down as she shut the door, but the sounds of a heated conversation made her look up. She caught sight of Dr. Baker talking to the three Mercer brothers.
"I understand that you're upset but…"
"You don't know shit. That's my brother in there, my family, and you won't tell me what's exactly going on. Stop feeding me the medical bullshit and just tell it to me straight up!"
"My name is Bobby. You address me by my name. Don't treat me as if I'm just another paying face."
"If you can't control the volume of your voice or your emotions Mr. Mercer, I'm gonna have to ask that you leave."
"Dr. Baker…" Natalie cleared her throat watching as the tall older man turned towards her. She could have sworn a look of relief mixed with annoyance flashed across the gray-haired man's features. "Mr. Mercer is in steady condition, I don't see where it could hurt letting his family see him or sit in his room for a while."
He let out a disgruntled sigh but nodded. "I have another operation to attend anyway. If you'd be so kind Nurse Hamilton and explain the necessary precautions."
"Of course Doctor." She waited until he was completely gone from sight before she focused back on the man who had called himself Bobby. "I'm sorry about that, we're understaffed here at the hospital due to the cold season and it can be a bit stressful."
"Doesn't excuse him from being an asshole."
Natalie nodded. "Sometimes it is best to turn the other cheek so they say."
"Yeah," Bobby snorted. "Or so they say." He eyed her. "Some of us believe that turning the other cheek just gets you slapped harder."
"Then I guess only God truly does forgive." She looked away motioning at the rest of the family that had slowly gotten to their feet. "Are you all family?"
Bobby nodded pointing. "That's Angel, Jeremiah." The two men nodded. "La Vida Loca there is Angel's girlfriend Sofi."
Natalie watched in amusement as the woman threw Bobby a look of annoyance but nodded at her.
"And this is Jeremiah's wife Camille and their two kids." He shoved his hands in his pockets. "Can we see Jackie now or not?"
Natalie nodded. "Certainly but be aware he's still in a medicated induced sleep. He probably won't be able to hear you. He lost a lot of blood and the operation went long due to the numerous gunshot wounds he suffered. You were lucky the ambulance was able to reach him when they did, especially in this weather."
"What else is wrong with him? The doctor said something about rehabilitation."
"Mr. Mercer also suffers from fractured ribs and his tibia in his right leg had to be surgically operated on as well. Dr. Baker had to place metal pins in his leg and readjust the lining of the bone. He'll have to go through several months of physical therapy to regain the use of his leg."
Bobby swore to himself running his hands through his hair, and she watched as he closed his eyes momentarily.
"From here on out, your brother will need around the clock care. He won't be able to do a lot of normal things for a while and I can imagine he won't be in the best of moods when he wakes up. The medication and staff here tends to make even the best quite irritable." She tried to flash them a comforting smile. "That aside, your brother is doing quite well. His vitals are strong, steady, and that's a very good sign."
"How much longer will he have to stay here? We want him home."
"At this point in time I can't tell you an exact date, but with this type of situation, you're usually lucky if he can be discharged within a month. That doesn't include outpatient therapy however. He'll have to return on a weekly basis for that."
The brothers nodded and Natalie stepped back towards the door.
"Come in and see your brother. It's okay for the kids too if you wish."
Each of the family members thanked her as they walked by, their expressions somber yet filled with hope. Bobby was the last to enter the room. He stopped directly beside her, his eyes landing on Jack in the hospital bed.
"Thank you for being straight with us."
"I'm just doing my job Mr. Mercer."
"Call me Bobby please." For the first time, he smiled at her and it was a smile of simple, honest gratitude. "I appreciate it."
"You're welcome." Natalie smiled back. "If you need anything, there's a call button on Mr. Mercer's bed and there's a nurse at a station down the hall. If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask for me, Natalie," She tapped her nametag, "and I'll come as soon as possible."
"Thank you again."
Natalie shut the door behind him and immediately went to check on her other patients.
It wasn't until six hours later she was able to get her first break. Natalie took a seat in the break room and sat down her coffee on the table. She closed her eyes, leaning back against the cold metal as she waited for the hot liquid to cool.
Her feet and back ached but she found that she couldn't complain. She loved her job and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. The feeling that she was making a difference in the world and helping those that couldn't help themselves motivated her to keep going. It made her feel good; it made her feel useful and needed. Things she didn't feel anywhere else.
"You're wasting your time with these people." Her mother's voice echoed through her ears. "They're below you Natalie, you should be ashamed."
Natalie sat up, gripping her cup. She checked the clock on the wall, 10 more minutes left on her break. She stared down at the liquid, watching the steam steadily rise.
"Look at your sister, she's acting her age and enjoying her life, not gallivanting into some disease infested hospital with silly fantasies of saving the world. Do you really think you're doing any good? So you save one person? It doesn't help the millions suffering around the world, does it?" The cold chuckle still echoed through her ears. "Come home before you embarrass yourself and this family anymore than you already have."
The last time she had talked to her mother had been almost six months ago and it had been the same conversation as the last. In a way, she understood her mother's dilemma. Natalie had done a complete 360 from what they had desired, a daughter that threw herself into helping others and being in places most wouldn't have volunteered. She had donated her time at homeless shelters, worked at the Salvation Army Food Drive, and helped with the local Detroit blood drives as well.
Her parents had been appalled when she had decided to go to college and apply to the school of nursing instead of business like they had originally planned. She wasn't interested in their high life of fame and fortune, making money to blow on the most expensive things and partying all the time. Instead, she turned down their offers of joining the family business and helping run one of the largest family owned joint corporations in Detroit and America. Her father prided himself on providing jobs in electronic devices, automobiles, and computers for what he considered low-income families.
Her sister of course had immediately fallen into the life of glitter and lies, becoming Mother's perfect copy and doing anything in her power to be more like her as the day passed. She hadn't spoken to Amelia in two years but she imagined the worst for the little girl with pigtails she once knew as her big sister. At times she wasn't sure who had it worse, herself who lived day to day on her pathetic paycheck or her sister who would one day wake up and find that she was truly alone, surrounded by masked faces and money that didn't talk back and give her the advice she'd so desperately need.
She rose from her seat, finishing her coffee as she left the break room, and she tossed the empty cup into the trashcan by the door. Natalie headed for the outside employee lounge where the smokers sat, the electronic doors opening and shutting behind her.
Natalie paused at seeing the head doctor of the hospital sitting alone at a table, and he smiled as he saw her, instantly waving her over.
"Natalie, it's a surprise to see you out here. I didn't know you smoked."
"Uh, I don't Dr. Stewart." She smiled gently as she sat down across from him. "I didn't see that many people out here and I thought some fresh air would do me good." She eyed him. "I know you don't smoke, you teach annual lectures against it down at the University."
He chuckled nodding and readjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose. "I don't, you're correct. No, I'm afraid I'm on active duty."
"Really?" Natalie giggled. "Doing what?"
"Catching smokers unawares in their natural habitat."
She couldn't help but giggle harder and nodded. "I see." Natalie leaned forward. "I must warn you however, they've been known to sway even the strongest protestant over to the dark side."
His brown eyebrows rose. "So I hear."
Dr. Stewart was a nice looking man for a man in his 40s, strong chiseled cheek bones, dark eyes that were always twinkling, and a strong nose that all helped accentuate his face. He had been nothing but nice to her since she had taken a job there almost seven years ago, and he quickly became the father figure she never truly had. He was unmarried and she constantly teased him for spending too much time at the hospital, and he in turn always twisted it back around, blaming her lone ranger status on her constant desire to help him with patients matter how busy she was.
"So how are things with you? I noticed that you clocked in late today, that's very unlike you Natalie. What does that make it? Your first tardy in three years?"
"It'd be my second tardy in four years actually." She smiled sheepishly. "I started working here about seven years ago, and my first tardy happened six months after I began third shift and my car broke down."
"Ah," Dr. Stewart nodded. "That's right. Pray tell, you're still not driving around that metal form of death on wheels, are you?"
"No, thankfully." Natalie shook her head. "After I completed nursing school and graduated this past summer, I was able to afford something a little more… Well, with doors on it."
They both chuckled and Dr. Stewart nodding, fidgeting again with his glasses. He always did when he was either deep in thought or nervous about something.
"You've been here since you were 15 Natalie, that's quite a long time. You've come a long way from that volunteer candy stripper I once knew."
"Thank you Dr. Stewart. What can I say, I love this hospital."
"We're blessed to have someone with such a good heart Natalie, remember that."
She practically glowed from the compliment. "Thank you Dr. Stewart." Natalie glanced down at her watch. "Well, my break is over, I best get back to my run."
"It was nice to see you again, take care of yourself."
She nodded as she stood up from the table. "You too Dr. Stewart, it was nice to have chatted."
"Don't work yourself too hard."
She flashed him another smile over her shoulder as she exited. "Same to you, good luck with your smokers safari hunt."
Dr. Stewart let out a deep chuckle from his throat, saluting her and she smiled hello as she passed two RNs entering the patio area.
"Kim, John! Come have a seat!" Dr. Stewart called out. "Still smoking I see!"
There was a panic when she entered her floor again, people rushing back and forth and she picked up her steps, eventually breaking into a run past the nurses' station. She skidded to a halt by Jack Mercer's room, catching sight of his brothers and family being detained outside while nurses and Dr. Baker hovered around the patient's bed inside the room.
She signaled at the family she'd be just a minute and Natalie dove into the room, cleaning her hands momentarily with the disinfectant a RN handed her. "What's going on?"
"Patient is experiencing TC syndrome." Dr. Baker directed the nurses as Jack shook violently on the bed. "I need you to take position by the patient's head Nurse Hamilton."
She nodded immediately following directions as the nurses removed all the loose objects from around Jack's bed, one then taking a place beside Natalie while the other moved to stand by the doctor.
"Let's move him to recovery position on the count of three," Dr. Baker instructed, "One, two, three."
On the final count, they each placed their hands on Jack's shaking body, shifting him on the bed so that he laid on his injured side and Natalie bent close to his face, checking his mouth to make sure his air passage was unblocked.
"I need 10ccs of Diazepam!"
Natalie stepped back as a nurse handed Dr. Baker a syringe while another tied a tourniquet around Jack's arm, tapping the veins. Everyone went quiet as he tested the vein and then injected the shot. He handed the empty needle back to the RN and they all watched as Jack's movements finally slowed, his body relaxing as his chest began to move in and out in a steady rhythm.
"Good work." Dr. Baker took the clipboard handed to him by a RN, scribbling down a few notes. "Nurse Hamilton, I'm going to need you to stay on this floor as much as possible even during your breaks. As we know, we're running short on staff today so if you can manage it, I'm going to need you to oversee Mr. Mercer in the case of any more emergencies."
"You… You're giving me clearance to administer?"
He nodded, signing the papers, and then he handed the clipboard back to the nurse. "That I am, that is, if you think you can handle it. Seven years is enough time to know you're way around this hospital blindfolded, don't you think?"
Natalie nodded quickly. "Yes. Yes sir, Dr. Baker."
"Good then." He capped his pen and slid it into his coat front pocket. "Then you're in charge of this floor seeing how you have most of the runs until shift change anyway. I will though need you since we're short handed to pull double duty and take another shift. Are you up to the challenge?"
She wasn't sure but she nodded anyway.
"Excellent." Dr. Baker began to make his way out of the room stopping just at the door. "Oh, take care of the Mercer family too will you, I have another operation I need to oversee."
Natalie nodded again and he disappeared into the hall. Natalie glanced around to check that no one was watching then she took a moment to jump up and down, shaking the tremors out of her hands. As she calmed down, she took another look at Jack, checking to make sure he was still breathing fine and that his IV tubes were unrestricted. Satisfied, she flattened her hands over her scrubs and stepped away from the bed.