Midmorning the following dayÖ
The other interns were standing around the sixth floor nurseís station reading Mattís newspaper interview when he arrived.
"So how does it feel to be the star intern?" Jake asked.
"Yeah Matt, you are the man." Julie agreed. "You have a perky girlfriend in Grace, a thriving career, and you practically have the Quartermaine locked up."
That last compliment made Chris extremely uneasy. He noticed over the last several weeks that Matt was the obvious front runner but he didnít like hearing that others shared his suspicions. He was going to have his hands full discrediting Matt, but heíd find a way to do it.
"Look I donít have the Quartermaine locked up, itís one lousy article. Last but most importantly Grace is not my girlfriend and Iíd appreciate if youíd all stop saying otherwise," Matt fervently expressed.
"Aw and heís modest too," Eve remarked.
"So whatís it like to be so in demand?" Karen asked.
"Thereís no talking to you guys," Matt said realizing his words were having little to no effect on them.
"Weíre proud of you Matt, we just want you to know that," Joe explained.
"Message received loud and clear. Now I think we should get to work."
"Seeing as how you are the intern mentioned in the paper I think we should listen to your wise words,"
Karen replied. "Letís get to work guys."
The group dismantled with Chris catching up with Matt before he got too far. "Yo Matt I just wanted to tell you that article was really great."
"Your words about me were extremely kind, what was that about?" Matt asked curiously.
"Just being honest my friend," Chris answered with a pat to Mattís shoulder.
Not believing that for a minute, "Yeah well thanks still the same." Matt began to leave.
"Hey Matt what sort of plans do you have for tonight?" Chris inquired stopping his progress down the hall.
"Why?" Matt questioned turning to face him.
"As I was reading your article it dawned on me that after all the time weíve spent together here at the hospital I hardly know anything about you."
"Thatís because thereís really nothing to know."
"Still I want us to have a drink tonight. You know just shoot the breeze a little. We can have a celebratory toast to your newspaper article and it can be a kickoff to pediatric rotation. Come on itís just a drink."
Ramsey was up to something Matt thought. Heís been way too interested in his personal life lately and his sucking up in that article was over the top. It was clear he wanted something, what was the question. There was only one way for him to find out. "Sure I can have a drink with you," Matt said accepting Chrisí offer.
"Great, the Recovery Room right after work."
"Fine, Iíll see you there."
Chris watched as Matt went down the hall. "You have some skeletons in your closet Harmon and Iím going to find out exactly what they are. No way are you taking the Quartermaine from me."
Later that same day at the Nurseís stationÖ
Chris was working on a chart behind the desk of the nurseís station when Ellen approached. "Dr. Ramsey those were very complimentary things you said about Dr. Harmon in the paper," she remarked stopping in front of the desk.
Stepping into his Ďeager to please to advance my career modeí Chris responded, "They were all true, besides when one of us looks good we all look good."
"Iím glad to hear you say that."
"Thank you Dr. Burgess. Your evaluation of me hit home, so Iím taking your sage advice and trying to be more of a team player. Mattís success is wonderful inspiration and with your guidance Iím certain I can achieve the same status heís enjoying right now."
Seeing right through his act, "You donít want to lay it on too thick doctor," she suggested.
"Yes maíam," feeling a bit embarrassed that she saw through him. "I need to go check on a patient," he said excusing himself.
"You do that."
Soon after Chris departed Matt came up.
"Hello Dr. Burgess," he greeted with a warm smile making his way behind the desk.
"Dr. Harmon," she responded looking up at him for only a moment before turning her attention back to the small mountain of charts before her.
Keep it all business like she is Matt told himself, this is not the right time. "I need you to sign off on the adjustment of meds for Mr. Grimes," handing her the chart.
"Okay," after looking over the chart she signs her name and hands it back to him. "I do believe you have a new best friend in Chris Ramsey," she said with an amused smirk. "Those were really nice words he said about you in the article."
"Everything Ramsey says I take with a grain of salt. He only does nice things for a reason and right now heís sucking up to me big time. So Iím keeping my eyes open."
"Well nonetheless his words were all true and the article was very good. I know your story will be inspiring to many people."
"Iím glad you liked it. Even if no one else is impressed or inspired your approval makes it a positive thing," he replied his penetrating brown eyes never leaving hers, as they seemed to demand hers stay locked on his. Going against his better judgment he felt compelled to comment, "About yesterdayÖ"
Those two words seemed to break the spell as she looked away to reach for a chart, "Thereís nothing to talk about."
Taking hold of her hand, "After things were under control in the ER last night you hightailed it outta here.
Now may not be the perfect time but there is plenty to talk about," he assured her. "We need to meet somewhere away from the hospital to discuss it," softly caressing her hand.
"Unhand me Dr. Harmon," she said with a suddenly very dry throat as she glanced down at his hand as it held on to hers. She needed to be strong and his touch weakened her like kryptonite weakened Superman.
Letting her hand go, "Fine, pretend thereís nothing going on between us. Keep trying to convince yourself that the earth didnít move when we kissed yesterday. But itís only fair that I tell you youíll have your hands full trying to convince me of that."
"You can believe whatever you want Matt I canít control that. I thought I explained myself clearly in my office but it appears I was wrong, so Iím going to do it once more right here." Taking a deep breath she forced herself to look him in the eye as she continued with her false mantra. "We have a friendly rapport but understand our relationship is supervisor and subordinate and thatís all it will ever be."
"Click your heels and repeat those words three times and maybe youíll find yourself transported to the imaginary land where they would be true. However I live in the real world and here they donít hold any water. Your eyes and your touch tell me all I need to know. Youíre going to get tired of running Ellen and when you do my arms will be wide open and ready to catch you."
For long moments their eyes stayed locked until the intensity became too much for Ellen and she grabbed her charts and took off, not realizing she passed Grace in her haste to get away.
Shaking her head in disbelief and disgust, "I see youíre still trying to defrost the Ice Queen," Grace remarked coolly as she joined Matt behind the desk of the nurseís station. "Talk about knocking your head against a brick wall."
"Are you done?" Matt asked not attempting to hide his irritation.
"Not quite," she said changing her tone. "I also wanted to apologize if I made you angry yesterday."
"If? Are you kidding?" He replied incredulously.
"Matt what did you expect? You tell me youíre going to stop dating me to chase a dream. I had a right to be upset," she informed him trying to keep her tone even so as not to upset him any further.
"You have no right. You donít own me and I never promised you a damn thing. You were out of line and totally malicious," he responded angrily trying his best to keep from raising his voice.
"Alright Matt as I said Iím sorry. Let me make it up to you. I read your article, it was wonderful and I thought that maybe we could celebrate your mounting success tonight. Why donít you come over to my place? Iíll make vegetarian lasagna for two and then later we can you know let whatever happens happen," she offered suggestively placing her arm around his neck as her forefinger moved gingerly up and down the side of his neck. "A man has needs Matt, Iíd hate for you to go without," she cooed.
Removing her arm from around him, "Grace Iíd sooner join a monastery than have you attempt to fulfill any of my needs. Stop throwing yourself at me, itís not very becoming and Iím not interested."
Her eyes blazing with anger, "I suggest you take your own advice Matt because itís obvious to everyone but you that neither is Ellen Burgess," she said before storming off in a huff.
Early evening (Recovery Room)
"So, what was that powwow with Ramsey about?" Mike asked Matt sitting in the chair recently vacated by Chris.
"The guyís trying to ingratiate himself into my good graces but Iím way ahead of him," Matt answered.
"He was asking a million and one questions about my personal life. Where I went to school, what I was involved in before my accident and the like. I got a reprieve when he was called back to the hospital."
"That must have been a bit strained, I know you donít like talking about your personal life."
"No I donít," Matt said taking a drink of his cranberry juice.
"But it didnít stop Chris from asking?"
"No it didnít."
"I donít want to pry or anything but you never talk about your folks are any of your family. Why is that?"
"Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but itís because thereís really nothing to talk about. This is Matt Harmon, what you see is what you get. Thereís no big story," Matt answered uncomfortably.
"Iím not going to needle you man, if you donít want to talk about your family or your past as a whole Iím not going to push you. All Iím saying is Iíve been around long enough to know when thereís a story. I just want you to know Iím your friend and Iíll always be here if you need me no matter what okay," Mike offered genuinely.
"Thanks Mike," Matt replied, appreciating the offer and thankful for him not pushing. "Iíll be sure to take you up on that if necessary."
"I hope you do." Sitting back in the chair and folding his arms across his chest, "So, whatís the details behind this scene I heard happened in here between you and Grace yesterday?"
"And here I thought GH was gossip central?"
"Itís my establishment I hear about everything, besides this place is an extension of GH for most of the younger doctors and nurses. Itís not called the Recovery Room for nothing. So tell me, what happened?"
"I told Grace I wasnít going to date her anymore, that it was unfair for me to give her hope for something that would never happen."
"I gather she didnít take it well."
"You gather correctly."
"So how big a role does Ellen Burgess play in all this?"
"Pretty big," Matt grinned. "That woman is infuriating but Iím just crazy about her."
"So sheís warmed up to you huh?"
"Hardly, sheís fighting me every step of the way but Mike I know she cares about me so Iím not giving up. If trying to break down those walls sheís built up around herself isnít enough of a challenge I have Grace throwing more roadblocks in my way to the ladyís heart."
"But you said you werenít going to date her anymore."
"Yeah I said it and Grace knew immediately it was because of Ellen although I made no attempts to verify that truth for her. So she took it upon herself to prove her hypothesis right by creating a scenario where Ellen would think that we were some sort of hot item."
"Did it work?"
"Like a charm. I wanted to throttle Grace but Iím a gentleman so instead I went after Ellen and tried to explain what happened to her. I did manage to get through to her and things were progressing nicely until she got scared and threw her walls up again and thatís where we are now."
"Sounds like you have one hell of a battle ahead of you my friend."
"Youíre right, I do, but Iím up for the challenge. Mike Iíve only seen a glimpse of what Ellen and I could have together and I know itís something I have no right to want, but I do want it and as afraid as this makes Ellen I know she wants it too. I tell you, I will stop at nothing to see that we get it."
A few days laterÖ
Alice was taking a little stroll around the hospital when she came upon Ellen.
"Hello Sweet Pea," she smiled warmly.
"Alice," Ellen returned. "I understand youíre being discharged today."
"Yes Iím finally being sprung. Iím happy about that but I guess it means I wonít be seeing very much of you. Not that I have been the last several days."
"What do you want from me? You asked me to think, Iím doing that but now youíre pushing and you really donít want to do that."
"Ellen how can we work on our relationship when you wonít even talk to me. Thereís nothing keeping us from rebuilding what we once had."
"What do you mean thereís nothing? You mean thereís not Sam. Samís dead so I donít have that albatross around my neck anymore. Iím worthy again, thatís what you mean right?"
"I donít want to argue with you Ellen. Why donít you come over for dinner sometime? Iíll make your favorite, ox tail stew; I remember how much you liked it. It will be just like old times."
"Things between us will never be just like old times again, too much has happened. Thanks for the dinner invitation, but no thanks. You should concentrate on getting yourself better not preparing meals. Iím not much into ox tail stew anymore anyway and at this moment I canít see myself sitting across a dinner table from you. Iím just not there yet and I donít know if Iíll ever be. Take care of yourself Alice, now if youíll excuse me I have patients to see." Ellen left with Alice feeling even less hopeful for reconciliation than she had before.
Matt and Chris were on the sixth floor discussing the new rotation.
"Pediatrics is certainly a different change of pace," Matt remarked.
"Different is not even the word. I donít even see the point in doing this. Iím going to be a surgeon," Chris explained. "I donít want to be tending to sick kids."
"They are patients too and weíre interns and in being such we need to get a full range of the different branches of medicine not just the surgical aspect. Iím certain with some of these peds cases surgery will be warranted, but even if itís not we owe it to every one of those kids to give them our very best."
"Youíre very right Dr. Harmon," Ellen said walking up to them. "I do hope you wonít give the impression to your patients that youíd rather be doing anything other than giving them your very best care Dr. Ramsey."
"Of course not," Chris answered making attempts to clean up his less than enthusiastic response. "Itís just that seeing these kids so sickly itís just so heartbreaking," he said in his most bleeding heart way.
"Well just think of how rewarding it will be for you when you see one of those children go home." Turning her attention to Matt, "Dr. Harmon I would like your input on a patient that was brought in today."
"What patient?" Matt asked.
"His name is Keith Simmons heís a fifteen year old with spinal cord trauma."
"What kind of trauma?"
"A fractured T-12 L-1," handing him the chart. "We donít know if his spinal cord was completely severed yet."
"When will you know?"
"Heís in surgery now so we should know something soon."
"Why do you want my input?"
"I wanted your opinion on how to handle giving him the worst case scenario if it came to that."
"Why because I am the worst case scenario?"
"Honestly, yes. Youíre a doctor and you live with paralysis everyday so that makes you an expert in this, in my opinion. No offense."
"None taken. Iíll tell you what when you find out the results of his surgery page me and if you want Iíll accompany you when you talk to him."
"Thanks I was hoping you would say that."
"No problem," Matt said as he watched Ellen leave.
A few hours later Matt finds Ellen in the OCR.
"Your mother was just discharged," he shared with her.
"I knew she was going to be released today," Ellen said refreshing her cup of coffee.
"I thought you would be with her when she left."
"Why would you think that?" she questioned adding sugar and cream to her coffee.
"Maybe because sheís your mother and sheís been in this hospital with a major health problem for quite a while. Why wouldnít you want to see her off?"
"Because Iíve already done that. I saw my mother off all those years ago when she made me choose between my family and Sam. How many times can you say goodbye?" Stirring her coffee and then taking a drink from the steaming cup before making her way back to the table.
"Do you use Samís memory as an excuse to do or not do everything in your life?" Matt inquired in an accusatory tone.
"What are you implying?" she snapped.
"Iím not implying anything. Iím saying you care about your mother, youíve said as much to me and I can hear the emotions in your voice when you talk about her yet youíre making no attempts to reconcile with her and why? You're angry with her because she didnít like Sam and he died before she got a chance to know what kind of person he really was? Then thereís you and me. I know you care about me and you know you care about me too but whenever we get close you pull away and you retreat into that haven youíve built deep within yourself. That shrine in your heart thatís dedicated to Sam and the love you two shared. You donít have to keep doing that. Moving on and trying to make peace with your mother will not be seen as a blight to his memory. I donít think Sam would have wanted you to stop living because he died."
Her warning bells sounded. How is it that this man could read her innermost thoughts and feelings?
Feelings she hadnít even firmly grasped herself. Her defense mechanisms shot up in effect closing the open book she felt sheíd become to him. "You donít have any idea what Sam would have wanted for me. My life is what it is and Iím happy with it and I donít need you to tell me how it should be. My relationship with my mother or lack thereof is my business and furthermoreÖ"
Her words were interrupted when she was made aware of a call over the PA system. After taking the call she informed Matt that it was Tony Jones with the results for Keith Simmons and that they werenít good.
The two met briefly with Tony who had to rush off to perform another surgery before going to talk with Keith Simmons.
Keith wasted no time in questioning Ellen when she entered the room. "What is it doc?" he asked anxiously. "I can see by the look on your face itís not good."
"No Keith itís not. Remember when I told you that your spinal cord might be severed?" Ellen asked.
"Yes," he answered.
"The surgery showed that it was."
"You can fix that right? Severed is cut so you can sew it back together. You do it with fingers and arms."
"Central nerves of the spine do not regenerate. Iím sorry Keith your paralysis will be permanent."
"No youíre wrong!" he shouted.
"Keith Iím Dr. Harmon and no she is not wrong," Matt injected. "Youíre very angry and youíre entitled to it, but youíve got to use that anger to your advantage during your recovery and with therapy. The next few months will be crucial for you. Youíre going to be paralyzed but it doesnít mean your life will be over."
"You donít know what youíre talking about. I wonít spend the rest of my life as a cripple. Iím going to walk again."
"You will do a lot of things Keith but walking may not be one of them."
"I donít care what you say. Iím not going to give up like you did."
Keith's words stung but Matt knew where they were coming from. "Like I said, hold on to that anger and focus it on your recovery it will help you in the long run."
"You should listen to Dr. Harmon Keith," Ellen recommended in a soothing tone, "he knows what heís talking about."
"No he doesnít! Neither of you do! Just shut up, shut up and get out!" he demanded. "I donít want to hear anymore of this!"
Matt and Ellen did as he requested and conferred outside his room.
"That didnít go very well," Ellen remarked solemnly. "He wasnít ready to hear what you had to say."
"Heís fifteen years old, angry and scared," Matt shared with her. "Heís going to need some time."
"It couldnít have been easy listening to him rail off like that. Does it ever get any easier?"
"Not in my experience," Matt replied morosely before proceeding down the hall.
After the meeting with Keith Matt felt the need to work off some of the aggressions he had built up over the course of the day. He was in the middle of the 95th of the 100 sit-ups he did religiously twice a day as part of his workout program when Ellen entered the hospital exercise room.
Spotting Matt on a floor mat his muscular chest bare except for the beads of perspiration that covered it and the waistband of the dark blue jogging pants he wore hugging his waist ever so enticingly caused an unexpected gasp to escape Ellenís lips. That small sound caught Mattís attention as he looked over to see who had entered. Seeing that it was Ellen a smile formed on his lips as he greeted her, "Hi."
"Hi," she repeated hoarsely completely in awe of his physique, she knew he was in great shape but
"Damn!" her head screamed as she continued to stare at him.
"Did you need something?" he asked as he continued with his sit-ups.
Taking a seat at the weight bench behind her before her weakened knees dropped her to the floor, "I just wanted to know how you were after the meeting with Keith Simmons."
"Iím fine. His reaction was normal. I would have been surprised if it was any different, it just doesnít get any easier listening to," he said continuing with the last of the two remaining sit-ups. "So is this the first time youíve ever been in the exercise room?"
"This doesnít seem like a place youíd frequent."
"This might have been my first visit inside this particular part of the hospital, but I keep myself in great shape doctor thank you very much," she retorted in a light manner.
"Thatís obvious," he smiled flirtatiously finishing his last sit-up and resting in the seated position. "I know you enjoy a competitive game of one on one, maybe youíd like to join me sometimes when I come to workout." Still looking at her as he absently reached for the twenty-pound weight to his left and the awkwardness of his position and the heaviness of the weight was obvious too much as he suddenly felt an ache on the right side of his back. "Ow," he grimaced in pain.
"Matt are you okay?" she asked noticing the contortion of pain on his face.
"Yeah Iím fine," he muttered rubbing his back as the pain continued to permeate the right side.
"You donít look fine," rising form the bench. "Let me help you up so I can take a look."
"I donít need you to help me up or to take a look. Iím fine," Matt insisted fighting against the pain as he made his way from the floor and back into his chair. The ows heís been muttering the whole time not lost on Ellen.
"Look I donít care what you say itís obvious youíre in a world of pain right now and you need to have an X-ray."
"Forget that, I donít need any X-ray itís just a pulled muscle. You know I am a doctor and I know my own body and this is nothing that a hot bath and some ibuprofen wonít cure."
"Well I beg to differ. You may know your body but I know my medicine. That injury could be a slipped disk and you need to have it X-rayed. I canít have you tending to patients when youíre in this kind of pain."
"I can handle it alright. Iím going to say what you always say to me, mind your own business."
"You are my business. As chief resident itís my duty to see the interns are in their top form and giving the patients the care they need, and you canít do that when youíre grimacing "ow" and "oh" every thirty seconds. This is not a request doctor. If you want to remain on rotation you will go down to radiology and get an X-ray and youíll do it now."
"Youíre going to drop me from rotation?"
"I will if you donít get an X-ray."
"You wouldnít do that," he insisted trying to keep the doubt he was feeling hidden.
"Try me," she returned before heading to the door. "Get that X-ray Dr. Harmon and I mean today," leaving the door open as she left.
"Damn!" Matt exclaimed. How was he going to deal with this situation?