Always One More -- 8

Chris hated everything about hospitals.  He hated doctors.  He hated needles.  He hated tubes and monitors.  He even hated the tiles on the floor, the key lime pie filling colored walls and especially the nurses that always seemed to be around when you didn't want them there but when you needed them couldn't be found.

When Tegan shivered he moved her closer against him and tried to warm her up.  He wasn't sure if she needed another blanket, but she seemed to calm down and move her lips in a steady little sucking motion underneath her plastic mask when he started to rock her a bit.

"She ok?" Dani asked from across the room.  She set down the magazine she'd been leafing through and walked over to stand next to him.  "Why don't you let me hold her for a bit?"

"No."  He refused to let her go, only moving her in his arms a bit so that the oxygen mask wasn't in the way.

When they'd hooked her up to the oxygen mask she was now wearing he'd held onto her hand and when they'd left her there in the room with her he'd picked her up to hold onto her.  If Mere and Justin were there they'd been the same way.    He wasn't going to put her down until Mere appeared in the doorway to take her off his hands.  They were on the way there, but had been caught in traffic near Disney because of the fireworks display that evening, but would be there soon.

"Are you sure?" Dani asked.  She moved and touched Tegan's hair then leaned and kissed the baby before standing up and looking at Chris.

"Yes," he said with a sigh.

The worries of earlier, of the fate of Tegan's health now eased into the fate of his own health, mental health that was.  Dani had been tense since he'd insisted that they go to the hospital.  The earlier play back and forth over the videos and meal that they shared and soon given way to the uncomfortable wall that now separated them.

"Ok," she said.  He wasn't sure if she could tell how uncomfortable he was with her there, but she didn't press the issue of him holding the baby before she continued, "I'm going to go out and see if Justin and Mere are here."

He nodded and looked back down at Tegan.  The baby had fallen asleep and looked peaceful enough, but he could still hear her wheezing mixing with the small hiss of the oxygen tank that was connected to Tegan's mask.  Until that sound went away he wasn't about to concentrate on anything else.

"I'm sorry kiddo," he said to her sleeping form, "I know this sucks.  I know that no one could have suspected you'd make this much trouble, but I'm glad to deal with it."  He took a deep breath and tried not to think about what he would have done if something really serious happened to her.

"Oh my God," Meredith's voice filled the air and soon Tegan was being pulled away from him.  He looked on as Mere cuddled the baby.  "What happened?"

"The doctor can tell you what happened, but basically she stopped breathing."

The pain in her eyes was evident.  "Stopped breathing?"

"He--"  Chris was about to explain what had happened when he was grabbed and shoved up against the wall, hitting his head against the wall.

When he could catch his breath after the shock wore off he found himself face to face with Justin, who was CLEARLY in no mood to understand ANYTHING about what had gone on.  Chris could see in his expression that he instantly blamed him for whatever else had gone on.

"What did you do to her?"  Justin's hand went towards his neck and while Chris should have been freaking out about this, there was a calm that came over him.  He took deep breaths and stayed still knowing that if he moved Justin would hold onto him harder.

Chris opened his mouth to speak, but couldn't find the words to even start to explain things.

When Justin's fist came towards him, he tried to duck it, but found himself with knuckles into his cheek.  He took it in stride, not wincing as his friend hit him.  He'd been in fights before and knew not to show any kind of fear.  If he was going to get through this he needed to let Justin get out his frustration.  He wasn't at fault for any of this and when Justin found out the true story, he'd get an apology, but for the moment Justin needed someone to blame.  Chris understood that far too well.  At the moment he blamed everything under the sun for what was going on in his own life.  If he had an actual physical person to blame he'd probably punch them a few times too.

"Justin!" Mere called out to him.

Dani came into the room suddenly moving to push Justin away.  He swung and almost hit the both of them before his fist implanted itself into the wall next to his head.  Dani ducked out of the way and Chris slid out from where Justin had trapped him, moving quickly he spoke in rapid fire succession, "Tegan'scryingJustin."

As suspected Justin turned and went towards his daughter and Meredith to help calm the baby.  When his back was turned towards Chris he gave Dani a look of warning.  He didn't need her or want her to follow him.  He slid from the room and out into the hallway, dropping his head so he wouldn't have to look at anyone.  His heartbeat was elevated and he could hear it in his ears and feel it pulsing against the tender skin of his now bruising cheek.


He turned to look back towards the room he'd been in and found Dani standing there.

"I'll see you at home," he said, "I'm gonna call a cab and get back to the house."

"You sure?" she asked.

He nodded, "I want to be by myself right now."

"You sure?" she asked.

He turned away from her and started to walk away.  He knew if he stood there he was just going to go crazy watching her look at him like that.

Dani watched him leave the hallway before she went back towards the room where Justin and Meredith were.   She didn't like that he was leaving, but she saw the look in his eyes and figured it was best to let him cool off rather than fight him over it.

She slid into the room quietly and sat down to wait.  She wasn't sure if she should even be in the room afterwards, but felt that if she'd been there at the beginning of this mess that she should be able to sit comfortably through until it was all taken care of.

She hoped that was soon.

"Is he ok?" Meredith asked.

Dani lifted her head and saw that Meredith kept her eyes on her daughter, but had turned her attention towards her long enough to be polite.

"His cheek is ok, right?"

Dani nodded and looked at Justin who was now holding Tegan in his arms.  He still had that angry look in his eyes, but it was mixed with the concern over his daughter's welfare.

"Is the doctor coming soon?" Justin asked.

Dani kept quiet.

"Dani?" he asked, "Did the doctor say when he'd be back?"

Dani kept quiet.

"What's wrong with you?" Justin asked raising his voice a bit.

"What's wrong with you?" she asked.  "How can you act like that to Chris?"

"It's his fault that she's here," he said.

"It's because of him that she's here," Dani said, "BECAUSE--"  She sighed.  "He was the one that noticed that she wasn't breathing right in the first place.  Chris didn't cause this."  Her teeth ground together as she took a breath through her nose and tried to calm her voice.  "He was the one that told me to put her in the car and get her to the hospital.  I would have just treated it like she had a cold or something."  Dani got up from her chair, "So if you're going to blame anyone for this blame anything else other than your friend Justin.  If I hadn't listened to him.  If I had written him off like you have then your daughter might be dead.  It's because of him that she didn't die though and probably will end up being just fine."

Justin stayed silent.  He didn't admit that she was right, but at the same time, when he turned back to look at his daughter without a word to her about anything more, she knew that he was admitting it in his own way that she was correct.

"I'm going to go on home," Dani said with a sigh.  "Call me and tell me what happens."

She turned to leave and suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder.  Meredith was standing there when she turned around and instantly hugged her.  "Thank him for me," Meredith said with a sappy sound to her voice, "Thank him and tell him that we appreciate what he did for us."

"I will," she said.

She made her way back to the car and when she'd locked herself into the car she leaned against the steering wheel and cried.  Today something had changed.  She knew that it was coming, but it was clear now that it was over.  Whatever part of their relationship that was keeping them together was now gone.

The knock on the window startled her.  She looked up to find a man in a white doctor's jacket.

He motioned for her to roll down the window and shoved his hands in his pocket and leaned a bit towards the window as she was rolling it down.  "I don't mean to pry," he said with a thick British accent, "Are you feeling alright?"

"No," she sniffed then stopped, "I mean yes."  She sighed.  "I don't know."

"You aren't hurt are you?" he asked.

"No," she said, "Just my feelings."

"You sure?"

"Yes," she said.

He leaned a bit more and then took a breath.  "Wait.  I know you."

Dani turned her head more towards him wondering if he was truly crazy.  "What?"

"I know you.  I've seen your face before."

"Oh great," she said with a sigh.  What a time to be recognized.

"You're on the hockey show...or were on that hockey show," he said.

Her head whipped around.  This definitely wasn't what she had expected.  Hockey?  She hadn't even thought about her broadcasting job in months, but somehow this guy remembered her?

"I was a correspondent," she said still in shock.

"You interviewed my brother in 1996-1997 when the Guilford Team came to play the Houston Texas Aeros."

"Who's your brother?" she asked.

"Nick Cross," he said and then reached his hand through the window.  "I'm Liam."

"Nice to meet you," she said shaking his hand.  "Dani."

"I'm sorry.  I've got to get into my shift," he looked at his watch as he pulled his hand back.  "I'm running behind schedule."

"It's ok."

"Wait," he said and pulled out a pad of paper from his pocket and scribbled something onto it, "I'd love to take you to one of Nick's games."

"One of his games?"

"He's coaching for the Orlando Seals now," Liam said, "He'd love to see you again."

"No offense," she said, "But why?"

"You were the first person to interview him on camera," he said, "That was why I recognized you.  I've seen that tape too many times."  He handed over the piece of paper.  "If you want to go to a game give me a call."

"Thanks," she said and put the paper into her pocket.

"I need to go," he said, "I hope you feel better.  Be careful on the road.  It's raining again."

"I will," she said and started the car up.

What she didn't expect was the strange warm feeling that shot through her when she saw Liam get to the doorway that lead to the ER.  He turned and waved to her then disappeared.

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