- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:
What happened between the time Miranda walked out of the OR and she hopped on that helicopter to find Antonio? (Gap-filler for episode 1x04: Code Green).
It took Lisa a good ten minutes to find her. She checked everywhere – the breezeway overlooking the river, the locker room and showers, the transplant floor, the OR's, everywhere. The kid, Chad – the only one involved in the Route 18 bus roll who somehow, rather miraculously, had gotten out without so much as a single scratch – was trailing after her and was growing more impatient by the minute.

“...we looking for again?” He was asking, though Lisa was moving down each hall, turning corners and leaning in to rooms to check them so quickly that she only caught the tail end of his question.

“Her name's Dr. Foster,” Lisa explained, not looking back at him as she poked her head around the corner, peeking into a break room. There she found Alicia and a couple of her nurse friends from pediatrics stealing a few moments for themselves so they could down some much needed caffeine. Lisa offered them a quick, strained smile. “Hey! Have you guys seen Miranda?”

“Uhh, yeah, she was in here just a few minutes ago. She was fixing herself some tea,” Alicia said, brows creasing at the mention of Miranda. “Is she gonna be okay? I thought I saw her in the --”

“That's what I'm going to find out right now,” Lisa said, smile tensing further as she felt rather than saw Chad coming to stand beside her. “Dr. Jordan has a run for her... as soon as I find her. Did she say where she was going?”

“No, she – she didn't say much of anything, Doctor,” Alicia replied apologetically, shaking her head. “She just asked us if she could use some of the water from Marisol's electric kettle, grabbed some tea and took off.” Lisa felt something inside her wilt and her shoulders slumped a little as she sighed. She was about to turn and and start back in on the search, when she caught Alicia's next words, which stopped her in her tracks and had her reversing course to look back into the break room. “But! Wait, Dr. Reed! I – I think I saw her headed the other way. Towards Waiting Room B.”

Letting out an explosive sigh of relief, she gave Alicia a bright, grateful smile. “Thank you,” she said, hurriedly turning and striding off down the hallway towards the waiting room Alicia had indicated.

“What if you can't find her? What's going to happen to Antonio?” Chad was asking.

Lisa glanced over, finding the teenager doing his best to keep pace with her as she rushed down the hall, and offered him a reassuring smile. “Nothing's going to happen to your friend,” she assured him.

“He's... not my friend,” Chad admitted, looking a bit sheepish, but he soon drew himself up, put on the best approximation of what Reed guess he must have figured would be his “mature” expression. “That doesn't mean I want to see anything bad happen to him, though.”

“That's really cool of you,” Lisa replied gently, reaching out to give him a firm pat on the shoulder. “You're looking out for your teammate.”

“I'm not on the team, though, remember? I'm equipment,” he reminded her as they rounded a corner.

Lisa offered a quick smile to a pair of nurses coming down the hall from the other direction as they passed and then turned her attention back to Chad. “Well, that's part of the team, too. Football players can't be football players if they don't have all of their big shoulder things and the tight pants and helmets and stuff, right?”

“You don't know much about football, huh?” Chad asked, the corner of his mouth curling in a wry smile.

Lisa couldn't help but laugh as she pushed open one of the doors leading out to the main foyer of the hospital. All frosted glass and chrome and polished desktops, fancy art and exotic flowers. Miranda's father really had put a lot of work into the place – not just into the operating facilities and recovery rooms, but right out in front, too. She could have sworn she remembered Dr. Jordan mentioning something about what a pro Dr. William Foster had been when it came to wheedling money out of well-off donors, once. It had been just a brief, casual comment, but ever since she had gotten close to Miranda, she had started collecting all of the tiny little details she could pick up about Miranda's father and tucking them away into her memory for safe keeping. Somehow, by knowing more about William Foster, it helped her to feel closer to Miranda, even in those tiny, off-hand ways.

“Haley, have you seen Miranda?” Lisa asked as she strode past the reception desk.

The receptionist was a pretty redhead with corkscrew curls that trailed all the way down her back – she usually wore them bound together in a thick braid, but a few strawberry blond curls managed to sneak loose and fall down into her eyes. Haley smiled a bit as she looked up and saw Lisa, though it was a mix of happy and hesitant. “Yeah, I saw her. She's still in there, I think,” she said, pointing off towards a spot past the end of her desk.

A few yards away, there was a tiny waiting room tucked behind a column – glass doors, much like the rest of the place – and Lisa could see a shadow being cast on one of the inside walls. Shoulders hunched, head bowed. Lisa glanced at Haley and gave her a big smile. “Thank you! I'll so be bringing you some cocoa when I get back,” she said, patting her hand on the cool marble of Haley's counter.

“Thanks, Lisa,” Haley replied, giving a quick wave and smile to Chad as he and Lisa passed by on their way to the waiting room.

Lisa came to within grasping distance of the elegantly sculpted chrome handle of the waiting room door and paused. She turned on her heel, doing such a sudden about-face that Chad jumped a little as she did so. “Chad, can you do me a huge favor? Can you see if you can go and give Haley a hand with some things at the front desk? Help her do some filing or something? I need to talk to Dr. Foster and let her know what's going on.”

“Do we really have time for that? I mean, it's --” Chad hedged, eyes narrowing a bit as he glanced over at Haley's desk and then back at Reed uncertainly.

“We do. I promise,” Lisa said, reaching to grasp his shoulder for a moment. “I – Dr. Foster's my friend and … I need to help her, too, for a minute, okay?”

That seemed to make more sense to the teen and he relaxed a bit under Lisa's steadying hand. “Okay,” he said after a moment, peeking only just briefly over Lisa's shoulder as he turned to go, seeming to try to catch a glimpse of Miranda in the waiting room. He turned back to her after just a moment before meeting her eyes; apparently his attempt at out-in-the-open sneakery had come up with nothing.“I hope she's okay.”

“She will be,” Lisa assured him with a warm smile, giving his arm a quick pat. “Give me five minutes.”

“Cool,” Chad said and nodded, finally retreating off to Haley's desk.

As soon as Reed was sure the rattled young man was out of earshot as well as eye shot, she took a deep, deep breath and let it out slowly as she turned back to the door. She reached out, slender fingers curling around the cool metal handle, and pulled open the heavy glass waiting room door.

It being the middle of the night, the waiting room lights had been lowered to a dimmer setting, their gentle, golden warmth intended to have a calming effect on those who were captive there, perched on tenterhooks until they learned of their loved ones' fates. Whether it worked on those people or not was debatable, but Lisa could tell they weren't having the designer's intended result as soon as she stepped inside the waiting room herself.

Miranda was seated in one of the large, overstuffed leather armchairs sitting near the wall, but she wasn't relaxing. If anything, she was the very personification of Not Relaxing – seeming almost willfully to be going against the chair's very purpose. She was sitting forward, elbows resting on her knees, a large mug cradled in her hands and although her head was tilted down, her eyes fixed on the mug and what was in it, her eyes had that same familiar, faraway look in them. She wasn't seeing anything, wasn't thinking about anything. At least, not anything in the present.

“Hey, doc,” Reed said softly so as to not startle Miranda. Despite her best efforts, though, Miranda did draw in a sharp, soft breath, her shoulders tensing a little as she turned her head and glanced over her shoulder to find Lisa standing there.

Lisa offered her a small smile as she circled around the armchair and took a seat on the coffee table in front of Miranda. She reached out and grasped the mug Miranda held, gently lifting it out of her hands and setting it on the floor at the foot of the coffee table.

Almost as soon as the mug was out of her hands, Miranda was reaching up, palm settling over her mouth, rubbing there in that way she did so often when something was troubling her. Whenever there was a problem she couldn't solve, a criticism from a superior she couldn't digest or a delay she had to hone her patience for, her hand inevitably found its way to that spot, rubbing back and forth over her lips or her jawline.

Almost as soon as Miranda started up with that adorable tic of hers, Lisa sat up and reached out again, catching hold of Miranda's left wrist and gently drawing her hand away from her mouth even as she grasped Miranda's right hand, pulling them both slowly down. Her palms found their ways to Miranda's forearms, settling on the warm skin there – Miranda had doffed her white doctor's coat and draped it over the arm of the chair when she'd come in – and clasping lightly, fingers caressing there.

For just a moment, there had been a look of confusion, panic in Miranda's eyes as Lisa had begun to move her hands but as soon as she felt the touch of Lisa's skin against hers, Miranda sighed, seeming to cave into herself, shoulders sagging. Miranda's elbows still resting on her knees, palms facing up, she uncurled her own fingers, cradling Lisa's forearms and grasping there, her grip a bit more desperate than Lisa's own.

“Hey,” Miranda said quietly, a faint smile turning up the corners of her mouth, though she didn't meet Lisa's eyes.

“Hi,” Lisa said, her voice just as soft as she tilted her head, surreptitiously studying Miranda. “How are you? I saw you heading out of the ER -- I didn't know what was going on. Was everything okay in there?”

“Not really,” she said after a long moment of wordlessness. “We lost the quarterback. Blair Hubbell. I had to go in and explain to his parents why their 17-year-old son was laying in our ICU, brain dead, when just a few hours ago he was throwing passes. When I was 17, I was off smoking pot and skipping school and daydreaming about going to the prom with Charlie Wiles, but this kid... shit.”

“I know,” Lisa said, hands slowly smoothing over Miranda's skin. She could feel Miranda's hands moving over her forearms, mirroring her touches. It seemed to be helping her, a little. At least, Lisa hoped it was. “It sucks.”

Miranda let out a weak chuckle. “Yeah,” she said finally, lifting her head to meet Lisa's eyes, her own eyes darker, tormented. “Yeah, it does. It sucks.”

“I'm sorry, Mir,” Lisa whispered, fingers curling around Miranda's forearms, grasping tighter as she met and held those sad hazel eyes.

Miranda's lips pursed in a strained smile and she nodded. “I was trying to help Dr. Jordan with a patient right after. She... told me to go 'get some air', since the patient had been down for nearly forty-five minutes,” she finished with a sigh.

Taking a deep breath, Lisa kept staring squarely into Miranda's eyes. “You didn't know. You were helping,” she said quietly.

“I was overcompensating,” Miranda corrected her as she started to straighten up in her seat, drawing her hands back as she did so. Lisa felt something in her chest sink, only to buoy back up again as she realized Miranda was sliding her hands away so that she could firmly clasp each of Lisa's hands in hers. “I think everybody knew it but me.”

“She's not mad at you, Miranda,” she murmured, scooting forward a bit until their knees touched. “She needs you for a run. I was looking all over the place, trying to find you so I could let you know.”

“Really?” Miranda asked, eyes widening a little in startlement. “What's – why, what's going on?”

“We're missing somebody,” Lisa replied evenly. “One of the kids, one of the boys on the team is unaccounted for. Chad, you know the little guy with the glasses --”

“The one that looks like Harry Potter minus the scar?” Miranda asked, eyes narrowing a little as she tried to recall the young man. She'd barely caught a glimpse of him as they'd been wheeling in Blair Hubbell, huddled off to one side with an EMT, dusty and dirty and obviously shaken by what he'd been through.

“That's the one,” she said with a soft laugh. “He's the equipment manager for the team. I was going over a list of the people involved in the bus rollover and something didn't look right. I brought Chad over to look with me and he said there's a kid named Antonio whose name didn't show up on any of the lists for any of the three receiving hospitals in the area.”

“Shit,” Miranda muttered under her breath, eyes slanting off to one side for a moment as she considered the implications of what Lisa was saying. She met Lisa's eyes again as she asked, “are they getting the chopper ready?”

“They are right now, but we have to hurry,” Lisa said, smiling broadly as she stood, still holding only surely to Miranda's hands and using those two hold points to draw her up onto her own feet. “You've got maybe ten minutes before they're ready to go.”

“Shit!” Miranda spat, letting go of Lisa's hands and spinning about to grab her doctor's coat. “C'mon, we gotta go.”

“I had Pam start a bag for you with all the essentials. It'll be waiting in the ER,” she explained as she followed after Miranda, unable to hide the grin on her face. Nothing like a disaster or news of a missing patient to rouse Miranda from her brooding.

Miranda was about to reach for the door handle when she stopped and turned, pivoting herself back towards Lisa who was standing just behind her, intending to follow her through the door once it was opened. There was a moment's hesitation, but soon Miranda was leaning in, lips finding their way to Lisa's in a firm but grateful kiss. “Thanks,” she said, the words barely audible between them as their lips parted again.

“You're welcome,” Lisa whispered, smiling sweetly as she reached up and lightly touched Miranda's cheek. “You'd better hurry. You still have to get your stuff.”

“Shit!” Miranda half-shouted, which startled a laugh out of Lisa as she turned back to the door, grabbed the handle and gave it a firm yank.

“I love you,” Lisa said through the laughter. The words had come out, purely on impulse, as natural and unforced as you please, but it was enough to make Miranda fall still again, her hand still holding the door open, though the rest of her was frozen in place.

It only lasted a moment, but Miranda was soon smoothly holding the door open, leaning her whole slight weight back against the door to keep it open for Lisa, watching her like a hawk as she gestured for her to go by. “We're talking later,” she warned Lisa as she passed, her eyes intense and dark, though there was a strange twist of humor, there, too – a sort of playful threat to the words.

For her part, Lisa simply smiled as she went by. “Okay,” she replied, expression positively angelic as she stepped out of the waiting room. “Hey, Chad?”

“Yeah?” The kid was behind Haley's desk, arm full of manila file folders as he turned to look at Lisa, his glasses sitting slightly lopsided on the bridge of his nose.

God, he really does look like Harry Potter, Lisa thought to herself with a mental chuckle as she walked up to the counter with Miranda following at her side. She felt Miranda's hand brush the back of hers, sending delightful sparks all the way up along her arm and through the rest of her body. “We're going back to the ER, okay? Come on back with us,” she said, waving a hand at him. Even as he handed the armload of folders back to Haley and smiled sheepishly at her, Lisa found herself looking him over with those doctor's eyes of hers – trying to see if there had been anything she'd missed when they'd checked him in the ER. A limp, any hint of dizziness or unsteadiness on his feet, but … there was nothing. Lisa found herself marveling at the resilience of young people, thinking that if only everyone could always stay so very nearly invincible, she'd have much less work to do. “This is Dr. Foster,” she said, gesturing to her as she and Miranda started towards the door that led off to the hospital proper. Chad gave a quick little jog and caught up with them in just a moment. “She's going to be taking the chopper back to Route 18 to look for your friend.”

“Hi,” Miranda said, ever the pro-actively friendly one, as she reached in front of Lisa, forearm brushing Lisa's stomach just briefly as she shook hands with the teenager. “How are you doing? Hanging in there okay?”

“Yeah, kind of,” Chad said, though his smile was markedly subdued as he shook hands with Miranda. “Are you gonna be able to find Antonio?”

“I'm gonna do my best,” Miranda said honestly as she shouldered a nearby door open. It led into the first floor locker/shower room and she disappeared down one row of lockers. “I'll be right back. I've gotta grab my jacket.”

“Oh, hey! Wait a sec,” Lisa called, hurrying into the locker room after her. She moved to her own locker which was a row ahead of Miranda's and a few lockers down, fingers quickly working on the combination lock holding the narrow, grated door closed. “I just remembered something.”

“What?” Miranda called back as she worked the combination on her own lock.

“The forecast said there's gonna be freezing temps out there tonight, so take this,” Lisa said, darting around the end of her row to toss Miranda her black hoodie.

Miranda caught the flying bundle of black with one arm, glancing down at the hoodie for a moment before looking back up at Lisa, a lopsided smile curling up one corner of her mouth. “Thanks,” she said.

“You're welcome,” she replied, lifting one shoulder in an easy shrug, her own lips shaping into a grin. “I figure I'm not going out there tonight -- you might as well use it. I mean, that jacket of your looks cool but it doesn't look like it does much to hold in body heat, either.”

Taking a second to nuzzle her nose into the soft cotton and smelling hints of Lisa's scent, Miranda chuckled as she slipped into the hoodie and zipped it up. “You think my jacket looks cool?” She asked, a sly, exceedingly casual edge to her words, eyes focused on the combination lock as she worked on getting it open.

“Very,” Lisa said with a laugh as she disappeared around the end of the bank of lockers once more so that she could shut her locker and replace the padlock on it. “Okay, hurry up. You only have a few more minutes.”

“Okay,” Miranda called back, the clang of her metal locker door opening echoing through the empty locker room.

Once Lisa had secured her own padlock, she headed for the door, where she could see Chad hovering uncertainly. She opened her mouth to reassure Chad, but before she had a chance to speak, she heard Miranda's voice. “We're still talking later!”

Lisa did all she could to tamp down the smile that wanted to surface at Miranda's words – it wouldn't help Chad if he thought she wasn't taking this very dire situation seriously – and could only hope that Chad didn't see any hint of an inappropriate expression. Craning her neck to peer into the locker room, she called back, “okay!” before turning back to Chad, schooling her expression into one of reassuring calm. “She'll be out in just a second,” she said to Chad, reaching out to give him a pat on the shoulder. “As soon as she grabs her stuff and her bag from the ER, she'll be all ready to go.”

No sooner than Lisa said those words did she hear the clang of Miranda's locker door being slammed closed, followed in short order by the clunk of her padlock being clicked into place. Quick footsteps and then the weight of the locker room door was being eased from Lisa's shoulder as Miranda came up behind her, pushing the door open a bit as she did so. Lisa turned a bit and could see that Miranda had pulled her denim jacket on over her own black hoodie and had added a warm wool cap and fingerless gloves to fight the harsh chill of the night air.

“Okay, let's get going,” Miranda said, giving Lisa's hip a slight, gentle nudge to get her moving, though her tone was all business. “Chad, I need you to do me a favor, okay? Tell me what you remember about your buddy Antonio. Did he have any injuries that you could tell?”

“I don't remember too much. It was kinda dark out there,” Chad mumbled as he fell into step alongside Foster and Reed. “It was hard to see, but I think he had a pretty bad cut on his head, somewhere. I could see blood.”

“Okay,” Miranda said evenly, eyes fixed on the path ahead of her, although she was essentially operating on auto-pilot, body moving on its own while her brain was focused on the problem at hand. “Were you able to see if he had any other injuries? Maybe a broken arm or a broken leg?”

“No, I – I couldn't tell. He was just kind of sitting there with his hands on his head. He looked pretty out of it,” Chad said as they made their way back towards the ER. “It might sound bad, but... I was just really worried about Blair.”

Those words caused Miranda's steps to slow, even though they had very nearly reached the double doors that let out into the ER proper. The urgent momentum of Lisa's own steps tapered off and she glanced between the two of them worriedly. She knew how important Blair had been to Chad, how important it had been to him to see his friend come out of the crash okay – but at the same time she knew that even with as someone as talented as Miranda working on Blair, there were some things you just couldn't fix. It had been one of the most difficult things for her to come to understand and accept about the job and even now, she still had to work on letting go of the frustration and feelings of helplessness but, in a way, it helped her to know that Miranda had much the same problem, herself.

Coming to a stop, Miranda took a moment to draw in a deep breath and she slowly turned to Chad, her expression sober, eyes darkened with apology. “I'm... I'm so sorry about your friend, Chad,” she said quietly. “I promise you that we did everything we could for him.”

“Yeah,” Chad whispered, ducking his head, pain coming off of him in palpable waves. “God! You know, Antonio is such a freaking jerk! He was giving me crap on the bus and that's why Blair switched seats with me. If Antonio hadn't been hassling me, Blair never would have --”

“Hey, listen – nononono, you can't think about it that way. No,” Miranda said, reaching out to grasp Chad's shoulders as she shook her head. “Listen, what happened out there wasn't anybody's fault. It's just what happened. The bus tire blew out and you guys got hurt, but what happened to Blair wasn't your fault and it wasn't Antonio's fault. Stuff like this just happens. Nobody's to blame, here. Okay?”

“It still sucks,” Chad muttered under his breath, rubbing his nose on the back of his sleeve.

Miranda spared a quick glance at Lisa, a brief, rueful smile appearing as Chad echoed Lisa's own words from earlier but then she turned her attention back to the teen. “Yeah, I know,” she agreed, giving his shoulders a careful squeeze. “But we're doing everything we can to fix this, all right? I'm going right now to find Antonio and then that's everybody on your bus accounted for. Then once we know everybody's here, we can help them.”

“Yeah,” he said softly, nodding.

“Did Pam let him call his parents?” Miranda asked, narrowed eyes darting over to Lisa for a moment.

“Yeah, he left them a message. Right, Chad? Your mom's out of town, right?” Lisa asked, hand settling on Chad's back and gently rubbing there.

“Yeah. I called and left her a voice mail so she knows what's going on,” Chad confirmed.

“Okay, good,” Miranda said, nodding a bit as she straightened up. “Listen, Lisa, can you do me a favor? Page Alicia and tell her to check in on Chad when she gets a minute. I wanna make sure he has someone with him when his mom calls back.”

“Okay, no problem,” Lisa said, nodding.

“Okay, excellent,” she said, head bobbing in approval. Gently releasing Chad's shoulders, Miranda stepped back a bit and studied the two of them for a moment. Her gaze met Lisa's and she could see her own concern for the young man reflected in Lisa's eyes. “All right. Let's get back in there. Chad, I'm gonna go and find your buddy. I'll be back as soon as we do find him, okay?”

“Yeah,” Chad said, nodding his head. He didn't sound convinced. He sounded exhausted and scared. Miranda couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy for the kid – even though his teammate had been a jerk to him, he was still worried for his safety. It was the mark of a truly compassionate soul and Miranda couldn't help but admire it.

“Okay,” Miranda said finally, smiling a little as she gave him one last pat on the shoulder. "You go with Lisa. She's gonna get Alicia to come and check in on you and I'm gonna get out of here."

"Yeah," he said again, giving another wooden nod as he shuffled over to the door, Lisa trailing after him, one hand resting lightly on his back.

"Get him some hot chocolate or something and a blanket, okay?" Miranda said softly as Lisa went by, reaching out to lightly touch the fingers of Lisa's free hand as she passed. "Please?"

Lisa nodded, a small smile shaping her lips as she did so. "Okay," she whispered. "See you when you get back."

"Yeah," Miranda said, her own smile subdued but determined as she slipped through the door behind Lisa.

"Bag's by the door, Miranda!" Pam said as she hurried by, arms full of charts and file folders.

"Thanks," Miranda called after her, chuckling a little at the petite nurse as she scooped up the bag by its handle where Pam had left it sitting just inside the door, feeling the heft of all the bandages and supplies inside it as a steady tension along the length of her arm.

Hefting the bag over her shoulder, Miranda spared one last glance in Lisa's direction, catching just the briefest glimpse of blond hair and that hand still settled gently on the shoulder of her worried charge as Lisa led Chad back to a quiet spot away from the hustle and noise and blood where he belonged.

They were definitely going to have to talk, and soon, but right now she had a missing football player to track down.
Chapter End Notes:
"My Best Defense," by Single File - As Lisa finds Miranda and they talk.

"You just disappear from view
You don't even have to try
To make a nuisance of yourself

You deny all knowledge
That anything ever happened here
Did it ever happen

So where did you go?
Come back and finish me
But you're just a moth so
Make a nuisance of, YOURSELF

Someday you will find
You can't stand YOURSELF
You'll radiate you self-hate

Are you aware of the smoke?
It's getting in my face
I dedicate this song to you
For choking up my life

Oh sheriff
You're pregnant
So who'll stop the killing spree
When you
Take your
Maternity leave

So where did you go?
Come back and finish me
But you're just a moth so
Make a nuisance of, YOURSELF

Someday you will find
You can't stand YOURSELF
You'll radiate your self-hate"
- "Moth," by People in Planes - as Miranda says goodbye to Lisa and Chad and takes off to find Antonio

Please review this story:

(But please keep it respectful)

You must login (register) to review.