That Healing Touch Series by K.Darblyne

Book Two

Up in the Air




Chapter 1


The warming water danced along her body like spring showers over newly budding vegetation. Her long form was like a harboring reservoir as the tiny drops of water built up in its dips and cervices and then allowed them to cascade down her limbs and trunk. The warmth of the shower made her think of how much she had come to think of her new family here in Pittsburgh. It was as though each of them had extended a welcoming embrace to her, with that small blonde nurse being right at the heart of the matter. It had been a long time since she connected herself with anybody, yet to think of someone as family. The surgeon shook her head.

Garrett Trivoli had only been in the city five months but it felt more like home than anywhere she had ever lived before. Her time in college, medical school, residency, or the Navy had no holds on her like this place. It was proving to be very different, this year of Fellowship for her. More than she expected. It wasn’t the job or the training that she was impressed with, it was the people who went out of their way to make her feel as if she was a part of them. And she was more at home with the petite blonde than anyone.

Garrett thought about the warm-hearted nurse, Danni Bossard, who had talked her into sharing her house when the new Fellow found herself seeking a place to live, joking about being homeless. The surgeon thought about how appropriate that it was for Danni to have short golden hair. It made her think of the nurse’s unending heart of gold, always giving and caring about others before she ever thought about herself.

A lopsided smile came to her face as she thought about the woman. ‘I can’t believe I didn’t see all of the similarities before.’ She shook her head and continued her shower routine, lathering as she went. ‘It was my brother telling me all along. She’s the soul to replace him in my life.’

She no longer had sadness in her heart when she thought of him. She realized that life goes on, and that for every soul that leaves us, one is sent to take it’s place. It’s just that we have to carry their essence with us until we find that replacement. "Maybe Rene had something there? He did ask me to open my eyes." She chuckled as her mind was pulling things out of the last five months and creating a new order for them in her brain.

Her colleague Rene Chabot had teased her that he would even turn Jewish if it would help her to find someone special. She thought about his tall, thin frame and that rugged French-Canadian accent of his leading prayers at a Synagogue and laughed out loud. ‘I could see you better cast as the Yenta in the Fiddler on the Roof, Chabot.’

Then there was Karen, the E.R. Charge Nurse at night. Mom, as they all called her, had gathered her into that E.R. family, which she was the matriarch of, without a second thought, even though their first meeting was almost life-threatening in nature. Garrett wondered about her own mother, had she lived. Would she have been like Karen in some respects, always the tough disciplinarian on the outside with a soft spot for a heart on the inside?

The surgeon turned off the shower as she reached out for a towel. The sound of music was filtering into the bathroom. ‘Danni must be up now!’ She smiled and thought about the woman who found nights too long when working, but way too short when she was able to sleep through them. "I bet this early morning stuff is going to put a serious dent in her restfulness." Garrett cracked open the door and yelled out, "You better get some livelier music on, my friend. That is, if you want to get up." She paused before continuing with her toweling off, waiting to see if she was heard.

The sound of saucy Latin music was her answer. The lively beat causing even the surgeon to begin moving to the music as she dried off; the towel snapping as she reacted to its rhythm. Her mind filled with thoughts of Rosie, the auburn-haired nurse that was another pseudo-daughter of Mom’s in that growing E.R. family. She had been the outspoken one in the E.R., always riveting to the action of the night. Her loud acclamations of landing a distinguished doctor had only set her up for a fall again with this year’s candidates. Garrett looked down at her own body and sighed, ‘Too bad, Rosie. I guess the name just didn’t have the right body attached to it for your liking.’ She raised her eyebrow at the concept of being a male. Then, just as quickly shook her head, "Nah!" She liked the body she had been given, besides she was finding it quite comfortable.

Garrett continued on with her morning ritual as she readied herself for the meeting that both she and Danni were to have with Dr. McMurray. Her mind thinking about all the people that were making her life different from what it had been. Never would she have dreamed of feeling at home again. Yes, she had found some very good people here in the "’Burgh".


The lively beat of the music was doing its job. The slow movements of the woman were beginning to show more life as her eyes began to open and survey the dimly lit bedroom. "By the gods! The sun isn’t even awake yet," she cried. Then she remembered what today’s meeting was to be about and her mind took on a new attitude. ‘Ah, yes! That meeting with Dr. McMurray about the proposed project.’

Her mind conjured up the image of her tall, raven-haired friend. The demanding perfectionist of a surgeon had scared them all, except for her. She wasn’t quite sure what it was about Garrett, but she knew that underneath the entire attitude was a really good person. "Yep, glad I called that one right.’ She smiled at the thought. ‘I bet she didn’t even know that she carried that baggage around with her all these years.’

As Danni closed her eyes, she could see the interior of the dimly lit cabin, the dark form sitting huddled in front of the fireplace, just staring into it. ‘I’m just glad that you bared your soul to me that night.’ She chuckled at the thought. ‘Not to mention your body, too!’ She could feel her face flush with warmth at the thought. ‘Oh! Better not go there.’

The nurse’s mind jerked her thoughts from the surgeon, to that of getting her small frame up and out of bed. She threw back the covers and found her dream journal tucked neatly where she had left it, under the extra pillow to her right. She picked it up and fingered the cover as she contemplated reading a passage or two. Then, deciding that she didn’t really have any time for it this morning, she placed it on the nightstand. She had her favorite passages and those she knew by heart. She let her mind recount them in her head. Her favorite one of all being that of the fierce, dark-haired warrior with the twinkling eyes. There wasn’t much more to remember. The dreams never lasted longer than a moment or two, and usually occurred right before she was waking. ‘If only I knew what they stood for. Maybe someday they’ll all make sense.’ "I’d better get a move on," she mumbled as she let her feet go over the edge of the mattress and on to the floor. She grabbed her robe and headed for the bathroom.


She wasn’t quite sure whether it was the excitement of beginning the project or the anticipation of the meeting with the Chief of Trauma Services, but Danni was ahead of schedule for a daylight shift. Her morning was moving along rather nicely as she waited for Garrett to finish up in the bathroom. The half-cup of coffee left in her mug attested to that. She never would drink coffee at home in the morning, simply because she couldn’t get up in enough time to fix it and drink it, too. But Garrett, now that was a different story. The woman was an early riser. The routine of her mornings could be timed and viewed with the precision as any close ordered drill in the military, each second planned and executed without delay.

She settled into the comfortable, overstuffed chair in the living room. Danni liked the fact that she was able to relax a few extra minutes and slowly sipped at the creamy brown liquid that was completing her morning wake up. Her thoughts drifted to the upcoming meeting with Dr. McMurray. She thought about her apprehension the last time and decided not to let her nerves get the better of her. It didn’t make for a good impression of their team when one of them had to be pushed into the office while the other had to be physically dragged out of it. ‘Never thought that I could do that one.’ She flexed her biceps and laughed.

"What’s so funny?" Garrett asked as she passed through the room on her way to the upstairs. She dropped her duffel at the foot of the stairs as Danni began to answer.

"Nothing, I was just thinking about how strong I’ve become." She flexed her muscle once more and pointed at it. "See?"

The surgeon shook her head and continued up the stairs. "I’ve just got to get my toiletries for the night. I’ll be right down."

"Okay, I guess that you’re on-call tonight." Her voice trailed off as she made a face, wishing that she could be there all night, too. She contemplated the next twenty-four hours, or more, for the surgeon when the ringing of the phone disturbed her thoughts.

"I’ll get that, Gar," she yelled and made her way to the phone on the hall stand.

"Hello," she greeted the caller.

"Oh, Dan! I’m glad that I finally got a hold of you." The voice was full of life, as her younger sister always was.

"Yes, Brie. It’s me. You’re up awfully early. What can I do for you?" Danni liked her sister, but she knew what the phone call was going to be about, her missing Thanksgiving Dinner with the family. ‘Well, I made my choice and they’re going to have to live with it.’

"I was wondering why you didn’t come home for the holiday. Mother was very disappointed that we weren’t all together. You did remember that it was Thanksgiving last Thursday, didn’t you?" Her tone was sharp as she tried to show her sister what she thought. She paused, silently waiting for an answer.

"Danni," the husky voice called out from the second floor. "I can’t find my razor, do you have one that I can borrow?" Garrett stood patiently at the top of the stairs.

"Who’s that yelling?" Brie was quick to ask.

"Hang on a minute, Sis." Danni laid the phone down on the stand then crossed to the bottom of the staircase. "I have a spare one in the top drawer of my nightstand. Go ahead and take it. I’ll get some more at the store later this week."

"Thanks." The surgeon called back. "I owe you one."

The petite woman returned to the phone with a smile on her face. ‘I like this new Garrett even better.’ It was amazing how much they were growing to rely on one another. Taking a breath to bring her mind back into focus, Danni spoke into the receiver. "Okay, Sis, I’m back. Now, what was that question?"

"Never mind the question, I want to know who that was?" Brie was surprised at what she had heard over the phone. ‘Now, why would anyone want to borrow a razor? Unless…’ Her mind raced with possibilities until she heard her sibling start to talk.

"That was just Garrett, Brie."

"Garrett…Garrett who?"

"Oh, Dr. Trivoli, one of the Trauma Fellows this year." Danni’s voice was clear and without hesitation.

Then her sister took on another avenue of pursuit. "I guess that’s the reason you weren’t at dinner?" She smiled to herself. ‘Way to go, Danni. Mother always wanted a doctor in the family. We all knew you’d come around.’

"Ah…yeah, Garrett pulled that holiday to be on-call, so I volunteered to work, too. That way we ate together and Gar didn’t have to be all alone." Danni was proud of herself. She had answered with the truth and was feeling good about it. No more caving in to her family’s wishes. She was bound and determined to stand on her own.

"So you and this doctor are getting pretty friendly I see." Brie was testing the waters, trying to see just how much information she could extract from her sister without it being considered prying.

Garrett was standing at the bottom of the stairs now, putting her toiletry bag into her duffel. She motioned to her watch to signal her friend of the time, then whispered. "I’m leaving in two minutes, are we driving in together?"

Danni nodded her head and picked up her keys, shaking them in full sight. "Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you, Gar moved in with me a couple of months ago. Hey, Brie, I really got to run now or I’ll be late for work. I promise I’ll talk to you soon. Okay?"

"Yeah, get going, but we have to talk, and soon." There was a bit of urgency in her voice and Danni readily picked up on it.

"As soon as I can, Brie. Nothing’s wrong is there…with the pregnancy, I mean?"

"No, nothing with the baby. Now hurry before you’re late. Bye." She lingered on the phone line, straining to hear any other clues as to what was going on in her sister’s life.

"Bye," the nurse said, then called out to the waiting surgeon as she replaced the phone on to its cradle. "Okay, let me get my coat and I’m ready." ‘Well, that went better than I anticipated. She must be mellowing with the second pregnancy.’

Grabbing her coat as she passed by the chair that it was thrown over, she quickly put her arms into it and worked at the buttons as she went out of the already opened door. Pulling it closed behind her, she checked to make sure that it had locked and then went down the steps trying to catch up to her friend.

The nurse pushed all thoughts of the phone conversation out of her mind. It was going to be a big day and Danni wanted nothing to overshadow it.


The tall surgeon had quickly begun her day as she accepted the trauma pager from her colleague. The ease with which she and Rene had at handing off to one another made others believe that they had been associates for a long time. It seemed that since Garrett had stepped foot into Pittsburgh, her whole life was changing for the better. So often her earlier days in medicine had been met with challenges by the mostly male dominated profession. They had all considered females to be inferior to them and therefore only tokens to keep the equal opportunities people off their backs. Oh, how she had proven them wrong. Her intent was to be the best and nothing less. That is where all of her energies were channeled, to her studies and to honing her skills as an aspiring surgeon.

Now, her efforts were beginning to pay off. She was at the top of her learning experience and had an excellent mentor in Dr. McMurray. She knew that what he had confided in her that first day on the job was true. Her technical skills were impeccable. It was her people skills that she needed to work on. ‘Thank the gods, for Danni.’ Her mind turned over how the petite nurse was making such a large impact on her life. It was as though fate had planned this move for her and there was nothing that was going to change it.

Garrett fidgeted behind the metal desk in her small office. She was growing nervous about the meeting with the Ol’ Cutter. She thought about his nickname, it seemed so appropriate for someone of his medical stature. McMurray always made her more aware of the world around her each and every time he started to talk about one of his photographs that decorated the large office, or his experiences in previous operative procedures. They were taken directly from his life and travels with his wife during his budding career. In a way, it was like learning from a wise old soul.

For a moment, Garrett turned very introspective and thought about what she would have to show of her early days in medicine as she imagined herself as Chief of Trauma Services sometime in the future. She looked down to her hands, the only thing that really symbolized her career thus far. "Maybe I should have them bronzed?" She joked. She could see herself now, trying to make a point, any point, and always reverting back to the bronzed hands. Sighing, she thought about it. ‘I guess they’re only good when you reach out to someone. I can see that talk becoming pretty boring after the second time.’ "Hmm…guess I’ve got a lot of reaching out to do."

Her thoughts were disturbed by the soft rapping on the office door. She looked up pensively from her hands. "Come in," she called out and waited to see what needed her attention now. She was relieved to see the face of Dr. Kreger, the Chief Resident on her service today. "Rob! What can I do for you?" Her voice was sincere. She actually liked her colleague and was glad to see that his initial fear of her was being overcome. She got the impression that he was a sponge trying to soak up all of the surgical skills that she could possibly show him. She liked having him on her trauma nights, especially now that he was coming into his own as a surgeon and finally realizing it himself. The importance of having confidence in yourself was necessary in this field, it added to your maturity and the sooner you learned it, the better you could become.

"I just stopped in to tell you not to worry about the meeting with the Ol’ Cutter today. I’ll cover the E.R. while you’re in conference with him." Rob winked in the knowledge that McMurray’s conferences were never short, his stories always taking precedence over time.

Garrett let her lower lip extend into a pout. "And I was going to hope for the trauma pager to go off," she teased. Her face took on a more normal expression as she nodded in acceptance. "Thanks, Rob. I appreciate that."

"Well, I know how much this project means to you. Say, if there is anything that I could help with…." Rob noticed that the Trauma Fellow’s expression was changing to one of happiness as her eyes began to twinkle in delight before she attempted to reign in her emotions, showing only the stoicism that she was known for. Her intermittent gaze distracted him as he followed it, turning to see what she was focusing on right past him. There, in the doorway, stood the blonde E.R. Nurse, Danni. Kreger’s voice stammered slightly as he continued. "But I…I…see that you probably have more help than you need already." He acknowledged her presence with a dip of his head.

Garrett spoke, her eyes still transfixed to Danni, "I’ll keep you in mind, Rob."

"Okay, I’ll…I’ll just go check in on that patient from earlier this morning. Good luck with McMurray." The Chief Resident excused himself to Danni as he made his way out the door. To be truthful, he felt a little awkward in that small office, especially standing in-between the two women. It was strange. He almost felt that he was intruding on something but just what, he wasn’t sure.

"Thanks, Rob!" "Thanks for the offer." The pair called slightly out of sync as he started off down the hall.

The nurse stepped into the room, her hand lingering on the doorknob. "Hey, Gar," she greeted her friend.

"Hey," was the return as the surgeon allowed the lopsided grin to take over her face. "You’re a little early, aren’t you?" She looked down at her watch. It was 0940.

"Yeah, well, tell it to my stomach. I don’t think those butterflies know how to tell time." She held on to her midsection and grimaced. "They started getting flighty about twenty minutes ago."

"Hmmm…" the surgeon looked very serious in thought. "Would you like me to write you out a script for some compazine? It will settle your stomach right up." Her eyebrow raised in question as she opened a drawer searching for a prescription pad.

The blonde hair quivered as the nurse shook her head, "No, I’ll pass this time." She then ventured further into the small office and closed the door. "Gar, do think that they accepted the whole proposal?"

"Well, I guess we’ll find out when we get the official rundown from McMurray in just a little while." The surgeon watched her friend as she was deep in thought. "Hey, this is really worrying you, isn’t it?"

"It’s just that I’ve never done anything like this before. I mean, write a proposal and all." She shrugged her shoulders. "I feel a little…" she searched for the right word to use, "overwhelmed by it all."

Garrett smirked at Danni’s insecurity. ‘You…insecure? Hardly!’ "Well, if I were you, I’d get used to it. I have a feeling that if we pull this project off, McMurray and the Board are going to expect more from us." ‘I’m sure of it. He’s into that damn teamwork thing. I know it.’

"Let’s just see what he has to say first, then maybe my stomach will settle down a bit and I’ll feel better." Danni bit at her lower lip then spoke. "Do you think we could change the subject? I mean, just for a few minutes."

"Sure, what do you want to talk about?" She was curious now, was it just Danni’s nerves getting to her or did she have something genuine on her mind. "Anything in particular?"

‘Okay, it’s now or never.’ "Have you given any thought as to what you’re going to do after your Fellowship year is done? I mean…where you want to practice?"

"I’ll be honest with you, Danni. I’ve been too busy just getting through this year so far to really give it any kind of serious thought." The surgeon noticed the disappointed look on the face of the woman. "Why do you ask? Does it make any difference?"

The blonde casually shook her head, keeping a disinterested look on her face now. "No. I guess it doesn’t." ‘YES! Yes, it does! By the Gods, please don’t let her leave.’ "I was just wondering if the project would continue without you being here, that’s all." ‘I wonder if McMurray will expect me to continue it without you.’

"I really think that to give it any chance to do some good, it’s going to take more than just a couple of months to even get it off the ground. I don’t think that they would discontinue their support without giving it a fair shot." ‘She may have something there. Maybe I should plant my feet and stay a while, just to get it going. Hmmm…what do you think, Lucas?’ Garrett thought about her brother, after all, it was he that had brought her to this point in her life anyway. ‘I wonder, what exactly it is that you have planned for me?’

The small office was silent with the somber thoughts of the two women. Each one trying to figure out what role they played in this ongoing puzzle of their lives. Each one wanting to keep the other in sight, yet knowing that sometimes friendships are made only to be lost in the events of life with all of its comings and goings. Whatever happened to them down the road of life, each one knew that the other would always be there for them, if only in their memory.

The petite nurse raised her hand to wipe an isolated tear from her eye, as she thought of life without her ‘Amazon’. It would be lonely again just like before. In an effort to distract from her motions, she began to speak. "So, don’t you think we better get up to Dr. McMurray’s office. We don’t want to be late."

Garrett nodded her head. "Yeah, let’s show him how eager we are." She looked over at the nurse. "Danni, am I going to have to push you inside this time or are you walking in with me?" She teased.

"What do you think?" Her tone was defensive and her body reacted to the challenge, her balled fists now rested on her hips. "I was just…just a little taken aback by how big that office was last time, that’s all." She tried to make an excuse for her previous shyness at their last meeting. "Now don’t be silly. You’ll see. I’ll follow you right in." She winked and wrinkled up her nose, still a little shy about being in the presence of such a powerful player in the hospital politics.

The surgeon got up from her desk, moving to the door where she stopped before opening it. Then, with Danni filed in behind her, she softly stated, "Oh, so that means that I’ll be pulling you in after me instead, eh?"

The tall woman quickly let her long strides move her body just out of reach into the hallway. The small nurse was still in the office doorway as she tried to swat at the surgeon in a playful fashion for the comment. The joking banter that ensued as they made their way to the meeting place was like music to their ears and put both of them very much at ease. All thoughts of coming or going were gone and only the time at present would fill their minds. Somewhere along the way, Danni forgot all about those pesky butterflies and just enjoyed her time with her friend.


The snow was blowing across the driveway in little whirlwinds of flurries. The year was fading fast into winter and the cold weather was being more than generous in its down pouring of the white ground covering.

McMurray stood transfixed to the window, taking all of the conditions into account. His mind still drawn to that warm sensation that he felt when he saw the excited look on his new team’s faces when he had told them the good news on Thanksgiving. He laughed and shook his head at his own doings on the insistence of his wife. ‘I ought to have my head examined. The Chief of a whole department braving a snow squall on a holiday just to pass on some news to a nurse and a Trauma Fellow.’ "Bet they never expected to see me," he grunted. ‘Guess I did look kind of funny being all covered with snow like some arctic teddy bear all bundled up.’ His face was one of disgust at the thought of being a teddy bear, all cute and cuddly. It was not the persona that the Ol’Cutter would like to be thought of. After all, who would respect and fear a teddy bear?

The intercom buzzer sounded, putting an abrupt end to his thoughts. The irritation was evident in his voice. "Yes! What is it?"

"Your ten o’clock appointment is here. Shall I send them in?" The voice of his secretary squeaked and crackled over the intercom, the transmission barely audible.

‘I don’t understand why in the age of computer technology we still can’t get a better system installed in this hospital. That system was probably new in the late 1950’s.’ He glanced over at his desk and the note that was jotted on his daily calendar sheet, a reminder of a problem that needed to be addressed if the proposed project was to get off the ground. ‘Well, at least they’re eager. I wonder how long that will last when they find out what they have to do?’

Several minutes had gone by without a response from the man on the other side of the door. The secretary was concerned that her transmission had not been heard. As she leaned forward in preparation of rebroadcasting it, the mechanically disjointed sound of McMurray’s voice filled the room. "Send them in."

The older woman rolled her eyes and shook her head. "You can go in now, Dr. Trivoli, Nurse Bossard."

Danni could feel the wings of those butterflies coming to life as she edged closer to her tall companion. She found comfort in the quiet reserve of the surgeon. Their eyes met as they each assured one another of their conviction to the project. Garrett had already plotted their course and now it was time to set sail. With renewed vigor, the surgeon stepped forward into the large office as the nurse followed closely behind, pausing only to close the door.

With the team intact, they stood silently before the large desk, waiting for the Ol’ Cutter to acknowledge them. They exchanged several sidelong glances between them as they waited to hear what Dr. McMurray had to say, the nurse and the surgeon both wondering what held his attention as he stood peering out of the window. The first sound that they heard coming from him was that of a deep sigh.

A moment passed before his voice slowly asked the question. "Do you believe in fate?" He didn’t wait for either of them to answer him. Instead he continued with his own thoughts for them to hear. "I used to believe that I controlled my own destiny until I learned a valuable lesson. You’re always at someone’s mercy.

You just have to hope that you can fulfill their needs first before you can fulfill your own." He shook his head as he started to turn to face them. "Enough about philosophy, you want to hear about that proposal of yours. Right?"

The two women were confused by his opening of philosophy, but were eager to find out what they were going to be doing at the Board’s request. The quick flickering of their eyes from one to the other was all that McMurray needed to see to know the answer to his question. "Well, let’s get down to business then. Take a seat." He motioned to the two cushioned chairs that faced the front of his desk. "We’ve got some things to discuss."

Danni and Garrett took their seats without hesitation and sat leaning forward in an ever-attentive manner as they watched the burly man settle into his own high backed chair.

The Ol’Cutter eyed them up, one at a time, then smiled rakishly as he began his speech. "The Board liked the idea and commended you both for the proposal. You have their full blessing and authority to proceed with your plan. The other departments have been instructed to give you all the support that you feel is necessary."

He watched the faces across from him, as each one took the information into their beings. As a team, they covered both ends of the gamut, Danni whose face was beaming with excitement, and then there was Garrett who seemed more reserved and hesitant. ‘Hmmm…one balances the other. They will be a good team.’ "In other words, you have carte blanche on the project. It’s all in your hands. You’ll report directly to the Board."

The blonde became shell shocked as that last statement settled on her ears. It was more than she had hoped for. "WOW! Talk about teamwork!’ The butterflies had subsided and an euphoric feeling was rolling across her being now. The petite nurse was so pleased that her friend would be given a chance to heal and, in the process, help others that needed it too. The shimmering of her green eyes was evident as they bounced from Dr. McMurray to her surgeon teammate and back again. "Why, that’s great news. Don’t you think…" Danni looked at Garrett’s face and stopped dead in her thought.

The surgeon narrowed her eyes and gazed across the desk, completely intent on studying the man on the other side. Her mind thought back to Thanksgiving evening when McMurray made the surprise visit to them in the E.R. He had casually mentioned something about getting a lot of rest to them before he left. ‘Something about the Board having plans for us…’ She reached out her hand until it came to rest on Danni’s, causing the nurse to pause and look at her friend.

"Danni, I don’t think that’s all the Board has in mind for us. It’s too good to be true. There has to be a catch somewhere."

The nurse thought for a moment then slowly realized that Garrett was right. "What do you mean by a catch?" Her face turned solemn as she waited for the answer. She looked back and forth between the two surgeons and waited.

It was like a game of poker between the two surgeons, where the stakes were all or nothing, and each one trying to outwit the other before showing their cards. The stoic masks dropped over their faces in an effort not to divulge their thoughts as each one wondered who would be the first to speak.

Finally after several minutes went by, Danni spoke up as she tried to mediate an end to the childish behavior. "Come on now, we’re all on the same team here I thought." She got up and physically stood in the middle of their gaze, putting an abrupt end to the stand off. ‘These two have to have been made out of the same mold.’ She placed her hands on her hips and demanded their attention. "Now, is someone going to tell me what this is all about? Or do I have to give you both a time out?" ‘If you want to act like children, I’ll treat you like children.’

She glared at them both taking turns from one to the other. The shocked look on both of their faces made her think of whom she was dealing with. Suddenly Danni felt small and insignificant as she stood with the Chief of Trauma Services on one side of her and the perfectionistic Trauma Fellow on the other. ‘By the gods, I’m making a fool of myself.’ She smiled politely and moved slowly back to her chair, apologizing for her interference. "I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is getting us anywhere. Do you?" She collected her composure and waited for the storm to break around her. ‘Why did I ever think that I needed to get involved in this?’ She wrinkled her nose and sat quietly waiting for any kind of response.

McMurray was stunned by the nurse’s actions. He could tell by the look on Trivoli’s face that she was, too. ‘Good God! She’s got moxie! She’ll do all right.’ The man just shook his head in disbelief. "You think that you could work closely with her on a permanent basis, Trivoli?" The Chief nodded in her direction.

Danni bit at her lip, waiting for Garrett’s answer. She prayed that it would be to her liking.

"Perhaps I should ask what you mean by closely before I answer that." Garrett found herself intrigued by the question.

The sound of a half laugh and half grunt was all that came out of him as he smirked at his underling. "You have good reason to ask," he acknowledged her. "Seems that the Board liked the numbers that you two have when you work together. Ian McCormick may not be an ideas man but he knows his way around the numbers." McMurray rubbed his chin. "The Board is willing to give you what you want on your proposal if you do them a favor."

Garrett eyed him cautiously. "What kind of…" she toyed with the word, "favor…would that be?" Her voice was cold and calculating. She thought of all the possibilities in an endless list of scenarios. ‘I’m a damn good surgeon. What more could they want?’

McMurray drew in a deep breath. He knew that what he had to say was not going to be received well at all by either of them. ‘I just hope that they see the merit in all of this.’ "All right! The bottom line is this. The Board wants you out of the O.R. on a regular basis for the rest of you Fellowship." ‘Okay, time for the volcano to erupt.’

"They’re idiots!" ‘My life is the operating theatre, how can I walk away from it?’ Garrett’s eyes were turning to crystals of ice as she stared at McMurray, while her blood was quickly rising in temperature to boiling mad.

Danni quickly picked up on her friend’s outrage. "You’ve got to be kidding!" She looked jokingly at Garrett, small quips of laughter coming from her throat, then seeing the surgeon’s face unchanged and serious, she gasped. "You’re not! What kind of favor would that be for the Board or for the patients?" Her eyes shifted to McMurray as she searched for an answer. The blonde’s eyes penetrated deeply into the brown of the Doctor’s to see if he was serious.

He nodded. "It’s not what you’re thinking, although…" he paused for effect, "you may think differently about it when it’s over and done with. Why, look at all of the exposure you will get to different hospitals and surgeons."

The two women looked at each other then concentrated their gaze at him, each one raising an eyebrow in skepticism.

"And what exactly would you mean by that?" Garrett was first to ask.

"Yeah, what exactly?" Danni’s brow furrowed with worry.

"Let’s just say that you two," he laughed and pointed to them both, "are going to spend more time together than most married couples do."

"I don’t understand. What could that possibly…"

"Trivoli, you’re not paid to understand. You’re just expected to do your best in the environment that we give you." His ears picked up the sound of an incoming helicopter, the whirring of the blades getting louder as it sliced its way through the air in the distance. A smile came to the face of McMurray as he swiveled his chair to look out the window. ‘I couldn’t have asked for any better timing if I’d have planned it.’ His eyes followed the speck in the distance until it became clearly visible on its descent to the helipad outside of the E.R.

"The Board wants to draw some marketable attention to the hospital and what we do here. They all feel that their best bet is to capitalize on you and the good PR that you can bring, not to mention that you two aren’t lacking in the looks department." He gauged the landing of the helicopter outside and continued as he swiveled back to face them. "Everybody and their brother was hyped about the new millenium last year. Well, this New Year’s actually the start of that millenium with the date 2001. They want to use it to our advantage."

The noise of the spinning rotors was getting louder now as the Ol’ Cutter raised his voice to speak over it. "You, Dr. Trivoli are going to be our first Flight Surgeon onboard the helicopters and Nurse Bossard will be your team member.’’ McMurray theatrically swung his chair to face his window, just as the helicopter was hovering in its descent to the pad below. "Welcome to the new millenium of care."

The swirling snow outside the window gave the helicopter an eerie appearance. The eyes of both women were riveted on it, their minds in a quandary of thoughts.

Finally, after the noise of the helicopter had died down and the window was now devoid of any remaining reminders of it, Garrett spoke out. "You can’t expect me to operate in one of those. There’s not enough room to take care of a bad splinter let alone a trauma of any significant source."

"So, you’ve been in one…eh?" His voice was gruff but teasing.

"Been in one, hell! I’ve ridden in them when I was in the Navy and those were a lot bigger."

Garrett’s mind flashed with the scene of the military helicopter as it sat there on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier. The hum of the engine was gone, as were the members of the crew that had flown her in. Well, all except for the lone crewman that stood a silent vigil at the tail section. His eyes never left the sight of the tail rotor as it moved slightly with the rolling seas underneath the ship. She watched the man standing alone, noticing that he was mumbling from time to time to some unseen entity. The closer she came to the tail section, the more details drew her attention to the rotors. There, on one of the blades, were the stains of dried blood. Her naturally curious mind analyzed the pattern of blood splatters as her eyes searched for more. With only a few more feet to travel before she was next to the crewman, he turned toward her, revealing the remnants of bits and pieces of a human being that were still clinging to his uniform. He looked almost catatonic in his stare. The mumbling barely loud enough for Garrett to hear his isolated phrases. It took only a minute or two before she could piece together that the downed crewman had been his friend. His lips moved with words that only his heart had ever thought about before, professing the camaraderie that they had shared.

Danni was still in shock from the recent turn of events. Her mind trying to grasp at anything that could bring her back to something real and tangible. ‘They can’t expect me to ride in one of those. There’s nothing holding it to the ground.’ Her eyes blinked rapidly as her mind fathomed a plummeting airship. Then with a note of disbelief she stammered out. "You…You’ve ridden in hel…helicopters?"

The surgeons mind was pulled back to the present as she tried to focus her attention to the question. "Yeah, that’s how they got me from ship to ship when I’d have to replace a surgeon for any reason." She thought back on her Naval experiences, then smiled and commented. "It sure beat using a Boson’s chair." Her mind flashed with the scene of the blue green water of the Pacific Ocean churning below her as she made her way from one ship to another, belted into a chair that was tethered on a cable stretched between the two. The weather had been too rough for anything to be launched off of the Carrier. By the gods, how she had prayed that the Captains would keep the ships on course and matched in speed so as not to snap the cable, allowing her to be tossed into the ocean or worse. Garrett shuddered with the thought. ‘Don’t even want to think of that one.’

"Boson’s Chair?" The blonde was at a lose for an explanation. "I don’t understand. What’s so bad about a chair?"

Garrett thought for a moment trying to find something that the nurse would understand to compare it to. "It would be like sitting on a chair dangling by a cable stretched between two race cars. One wrong move and…"

"Oh, my!" Danni drew her hand up to her mouth as she tried to catch her breath. For the first time, the young woman was realizing just how sheltered her life had been. She could just see her mother’s reaction if that had been her. ‘Those times at the cabin were nothing compared to that.’ She remembered her fondness for climbing out on the limb of that old Maple tree as it overhung the lake and diving off it into the water below. ‘But at least the tree was planted firmly on the ground and when I dove in, the water cushioned my fall.’ She felt a shiver run up her spine at the idea of falling from the sky, untethered to the ground below and nothing to cushion the impact.

The nurse studied her tall friend who was now pacing the room. She could see the maturity that life and its experiences had brought to the surgeon and wondered why she was being exposed to all of this now. Danni looked up at the man who was eyeing her.

"You’re kidding, right?" She waited for an answer. McMurray only shook his head and smiled warily. Her shoulders slumped and she voiced a breathy but disappointed, "You’re not. The Board wants Garrett to fly into surgeries, literally."

"And you, too, Nurse Bossard."

"The Board feels that your presence in the air will be a highly visible marketing tool to the smaller hospitals in the area, a Trauma Surgical Team flying in to their world. They want your faces to be more recognizable than the presidential candidates." He further elaborated.

Danni chuckled at that thought. "Well, that won’t be hard." It was the nurse’s attempt at weak humor, her usual front line defense when she felt ill at ease in a situation. "But what am I suppose to do? I’ve never been in a helicopter. In fact, the last time that I was even on an airplane was…." The petite nurse gulped hard trying to settle her stomach at the thought, but the telltale pallor was stretching across her features.

Danni’s mind rehashed her only plane ride. It wasn’t hard to remember. There is only so much that one can commit to memory spending almost the entire flight in a catatonic state. Her fear of flying was not easily overcome. Rosie had tried numerous times to get her to come out of her self imprisoned denial of the flight, but Danni just couldn’t do it, or at least her mind wouldn’t let her. It had been the worst vacation that Rosie had ever had, not to mention the blonde nurse. Even after they had landed and she was back on firm ground, it didn’t ease up. The only thing that her mind kept focusing on was the return flight home. It not only effected her waking mind but also her sleep. Rosie finally conceded and cashed in their plane tickets for the return flight home after a second sleepless night. Danni thought about the little trip into her not so pleasant past. ‘I wonder if she will be able to understand?’

The eyes of the surgeon noted the change in her friend’s coloring and the uneasy look on her face. Garrett stopped dead in her tracks and slowly turned to face her mentor. Her eyes narrowed and she raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "You…You want us to fly in and save the day at these little ass Podunk’s of a hospital and make the Board look like it’s reaching out with services to every little nook and cranny of the area." The surgeon’s eyes flashed with anger. "Whose idea was that, the accountant?"

"What’s the matter, Doctor, you afraid that you might have to interact with more people who don’t know your likes and dislikes?" McMurray looked directly at the tall woman. ‘Okay, call me a liar, but I know that’s part of the reason.’ "Maybe if you would put the patient first and not your damn need for perfection, then…" McMurray stopped and just stared at her. ‘Jeez, I just pushed that too far. She’ll bolt and run for sure now.’

Both women were studying his face now, trying to see where he stood. Could he seriously be considering this? The office was silent as all three stared at one another, then finally the silence was broken.

"Come on, Danni. We don’t have to listen to this nonsense." She turned and started to walk toward the door of the office as the nurse slowly rose to join her.

"You do if you want that proposal to become a reality." McMurray called out to her. Garrett’s outstretched hand hesitated on the doorknob as Danni froze in mid step and turned to look back at the man. "You do this for the Board and you have carte blanche with your project. It’s as simple as that." The Ol’Cutter got up and circled the high backed chair. "I know that this project means something to you both. Damn it! It’s that or nothing as far as the Board’s concerned."

"I’m not going to have our faces put all over the place. I’m not some publicity seeking egomaniac and neither is she." The dark-haired woman pointed to her friend and then just shook her head in dismay. "We don’t need to be high profile in our jobs. Flying in a helicopter is dangerous enough with the blades looming overhead and the jet fuel onboard. We don’t need to be on the lookout for crazed fans, too."

"Is that your concern, fans? I’ll tell them that the PR is for the hospitals only and not to go to the general public. Will that help?" McMurray sat down and waited for an answer.

"Gar…er…Dr. Trivoli, maybe we should think about this." Danni looked pleadingly to the tall surgeon. ‘How bad could it be…I mean she only has six months left to the Fellowship. I just know that the project would help her, too.’ There she was, putting her friends and others before herself, once again. ‘Now, really, how many flights could they need a surgeon on? Maybe I’ll feel better in a helicopter…Yeah, right!’ She rolled her eyes knowing that it wouldn’t make a difference.

Garrett thought about all the lonely people that the project could bring out of their depression and agony of being the one left living after a family tragedy. ‘If I can’t do it here, I’ll just wait and do it somewhere else after this year is up.’ She looked over at Danni. Those green eyes were speaking in volumes that were screaming into the surgeon’s head. ‘By the gods, how can she be so giving? I bet she doesn’t even understand all of the hazards that she’s asking me to let her be a part of. Why, if anything were to happen to her….’ The tall woman pursed her lips and licked her teeth as she thought about the situation. She weighed the pros and cons in her mind as she occasionally stole glances at the blonde woman in front of her. She was probably going to regret this one day, but she didn’t have the heart to say no while she was looking at those hopeful eyes. ‘I’ll just have to make sure that she’s well prepared for this endeavor. By the gods, I don’t want anything to ever happen to her.’

"Oh, all right!" She muttered and walked back over to the chair then sat down. "But there’ll be some things ironed out here and now, first." She’d go through with it but only on mutually agreed upon terms.

The nurse’s happiness was piqued at the idea of her friend getting the help and support that she’d need to deal with her past experiences. Danni smiled, allowing her nose to wrinkle up in delight. She patted her friend’s arm and quickly assumed the role of mediator in the ensuing peace talks.


It was nearly lunchtime when the petite nurse and her tall companion emerged from the office of Dr. McMurray. Neither one looked truly happy, but they were rather satisfied that an agreement had been worked out. Danni had done her best to keep the tempers and the egos from gaining any footholds in the negotiations. Garrett’s main concern was for both her and her partner to be properly trained and readied to assume the roles of a flight crew. The surgeon was not one for improvisation when the lives of her crew or their patient were at stake. The nurse had also pointed out that the time spent indoctrinating them into the routine and workings of the helicopter crews would only add to their PR potential. One mistake in the public eye would not only discredit them but the hospital as well.

Danni was glad that the compromises were ones that everyone would be able to live with. ‘Well,’ she thought, ‘almost everyone.’ She still wasn’t sure that she would be able to do it, but she was willing to walk through hell if she had to for the support group to become a reality. ‘I’m not about to be the cause of this not happening.’ She thought about her nice and easy world as she was used to it. It was never going to be the same. At least not for the rest of the time that Garrett Trivoli was here in Pittsburgh. She sighed at that thought and felt the butterflies once again coming to life in her stomach.

Garrett’s mood was somber and thoughtful as she matched strides with her friend while they walked away from the office. She was pleased that she had stood her ground enough to get them the training that they would need to be a cohesive team. She realized that it would be taking away from her time in the O.R. but didn’t want to chance any unforeseen problems with her new friend. The surgeon cast a wayward glance in the nurse’s direction. ‘I bet she’s scared to hell and back.’ She was amazed at how much she was finding out about this woman. More than she had known about anybody in her lifetime. ‘Lucas, you’d be proud of her. She’s just like you, following me wherever my path leads.’



Chapter 2


The days seemed to fly by with little or no effort on the part of Danni. Her mind was being kept occupied with thoughts of everything but her normal nursing duties. First it was the rigorous physical conditioning that started off each and every morning for both her and the surgeon. It was to give them better strength and endurance for the days ahead. At times, she wondered if they were ever going to see a patient again. Thanks to the Cardiac Rehab Unit, they were able to use the indoor walking track each morning before the daily patrons made their way to it. With the weather turning more and more towards winter, it proved to be a blessing in disguise. She just couldn’t imagine herself being pried out of her nice warm bed to run out of doors. At least this way she was able to wake up a little first without the help of the elements.

They were already into the second week of their training when they were informed of the demands on their time for additional classroom periods and mock flight simulations to round out their days. If anybody had thought that this was going to be a piece of cake, they were badly mistaken. Danni could remember her days in nursing classes in college and thinking that they were tough with little or no time for herself. Now she found herself wishing for those days once more. They were cramming everything that they could into her, from how to use pieces of field equipment on the patient, to how to suppress the outbreak of fire in the helicopter while in flight. With each new day and skill that she learned, her admiration for the members of the EMS System and Flight Crews rose considerably.

At times Danni found herself enamoured with the thought of being a part of the "White Knight’s" team and swooping in with rotors-a-whirling to rescue the victim of trauma from the clutches of death. Then there were the other times, mostly at the end of the day, when all she wanted to do was just go home and die in a hot bath. Today was one of those. They had been learning to move patients on and off of the helicopter. It sounded easy enough, besides, she and Garrett moved patients in the trauma room all of the time. Boy, was there a difference when it was just the two of them and not an entire trauma team plus the medics to help. Garrett seemed to have no problem, but with the nurse’s petite frame and stature, she was finding muscles that she never knew existed as she tried to compensate for her size.

‘Gosh! I feel like every muscle in my body is crying for attention.’ Her body seemed to just melt into the warm water of the bath as she lowered herself down into it. The suds of the bubble bath encased her body as it passed through them.

Danni didn’t know whether her shoulders were sore from lifting the dummy filled stretcher in and out of the back of the helicopter or from the constant hunching over that they had to do when in the vicinity of the blades on the rotor. ‘I wonder how Garrett can keep up that posture?’ Then, when she thought of watching her friend in the O.R., standing stoop-shouldered as she worked on the patient. The nurse began to shake her head. "It figures! She’s used to it."

"Used to what, Danni?" The tall surgeon yelled out as she stopped outside of the door in the hall.

‘Caught, again!’ The blonde stuck her tongue out at the door. "Nothing, Gar. I was just talking to myself." ‘Sometimes I swear that she hears better than an owl.’ Then she laughed to herself as her mind played with an idea. ‘I wonder if Superman had a sister?’

"If that hot soak doesn’t loosen up those muscles in your back, I could give you a massage when you’re done. Danni…Danni…." Garrett listened for a reply but there was nothing but the sound of small splashes coming from the room. ‘Poor kid. I don’t think she realized that it was going to be this strenuous. I sure hope she isn’t going through all of this for nothing.’

The woman thought about all the things that they had been doing together as a team now. Each one learning more about the other without really trying to. When they worked as a team, their catalyst was pure instinct. ‘We’re either going to do this together…or not at all. I'll never find someone that knows my needs like she does.’

She started to walk back towards her room. The more she thought about the young woman that fate had brought into her world, the more Garrett realized how empty her world had been. ‘I don’t really think that I’d want to do this with anyone else.’ Then she smirked and shook her head. ‘Who’d be able to put up with me…especially in such cramped quarters?’

Garrett thought about the turbulent rides that she had in a helicopter, her mind then compared those to Danni’s growing motion sickness in the back of a swaying ambulance. ‘Maybe I shouldn’t let her eat before we take that first flight…just in case?’ The surgeon made a mental note to look back in on her friend in a little while then went to check on her mail.

Danni yawned, as her body was beckoning her to rest. The day was quickly catching up to her. Her body had finally allowed itself to come off of full alert status, and now…it needed sleep to heal and strengthen itself. The tired nurse succumbed almost instantly to the lure of the warm water as it swaddled her into sleep.

"Danni…Danni…" the throaty tones echoed in her head. "Ahhh! There it was!" Her muscles recognized that sudden feel of warmth as it stretched across her shoulders. Her flesh seemed to move willingly with the pressure as the strong touch molded her like clay in an artist’s hands. The gentle kneading sensations acting like a cosmic regeneration of some long ago depleted life force. Every change of direction causing the electrically charged particles to run rampant throughout her body, registering passions and delights beyond her realm of thought. She could feel her body tingling now as it betrayed her silent want to it’s very core.

Shadows of the night now loomed across her eyelids as the dark form called out to her from above. The outstretched hand summoning her with a warming sensation that would fill her body with its own language of the night, causing it to soar aloft in the sweet basking glow of the heavens as she floated amongst the clouds. Tender, so very tender was that soft, lingering touch that her body wanted nothing more than to melt at this very moment, never again to feel the need for another’s touch.

Her senses were dulled now as the last waves of exhaustive pleasure rolled through her body taking all of the aches and pains from her. She could hear the world calling to her and with a blurry eye, chose to slowly grasp on to her place and time. There, coming into a sharper view in front of her was the dark form, with beams of dazzling light emitting from around it. It seemed so surreal that it took her breath away, causing her to gasp for air.

"Danni, are you okay?" The voice whispered, trying hard not to startle her. The large but gentle hand reached out to caress her cheek again. "Come on sleepy head. I think that this hot soak has given you just about all that it can. Time to dry off now before you catch a chill." Garrett was sitting on the edge of the tub. Her tall form was towering up above the small woman as it blocked the overhead light from her eyes.

The petite woman felt unclear as to what was real and what had been part of her dream. She could feel an inner peace within herself as her mind acknowledged the presence of her friend. "That was nice," she purred in her wakening state. "Could we do that again some time?"

"Sure, anytime that you want." The surgeon spoke softly, not wanting to scare her. ‘She obviously isn’t talking about today’s activities.’ Garrett brushed a stray lock of hair from the woman’s face. "Well, by the look on your face, my friend, it seems to have done you a world of good, whatever it was." Garrett eyed her with a slightly raised eyebrow.

The blonde’s eyes were open now as her mind registered where she was. The loving expression that was on her face only a second ago now turned quickly into one of startled embarrassment. ‘This couldn’t have been real, could it?’ She asked herself as her eyes searched for a towel. Danni was finding it hard to avoid Garrett’s gaze. "What do you mean, whatever it was? Didn’t you just massage…I mean…offer me a massage?" She looked into her friend’s longing stare and realized that nothing had transpired between them. ‘No, just a dream, that’s all it was.’ Her shoulders slumped at the thought of missing the warming touch of her friend.

"Here," Garrett held the bath towel out for her to take. "It looks like you’re pretty relaxed right now. Maybe next time." ‘Maybe next time I should give her the massage before I let her bathe?’ Then getting up as she sensed the embarrassment that she had caused, "I’ll…I’m just going to go to bed now. I’ll see you in the morning." Garrett hesitated before moving toward the door, letting her eyes wonder across the flexed shoulders with just hints of clinging bubbles remaining on the delicate skin.

The nurse watched in amazement as the door closed once more leaving her alone. ‘By the gods! It felt so real.’ Danni lifted her body partially out of the tepid bath water, allowing the cooler room air to give her a chill. Her arms automatically crossed over her chest in an effort to stave off the multiplying goose bumps on her skin. "What the…?" The blonde woman looked down at her nipples that were already hard and raised. She hung her head and sighed, then mumbled under her breath. "Danni girl, you’ve got it bad. Real bad!"


The night was winding down to the pleasure of the E.R. staff. It had been a little hectic at the start of their shift last evening but soon cleared out around 2 A.M. when the traumas started to roll in the door. There hardly ever seemed to be a slow time anymore. When all the rooms were emptied out and the last trauma sent to Radiology for an angiogram, the staff tried to relax.

Karen, the Charge Nurse, was finding it a little lonesome without her two pseudo-daughters around. She hadn’t seen either of them except for a quick pass through of the E.R. on their way to the gym or the classroom for the EMS Services. Her girls both looked fine except for the hurried look on their faces as they waved and yelled a warm hello in her direction, never pausing or breaking their step as they continued off into the world of helicopters.

It was a little over two weeks now and even Rosie was showing signs of an empty nest syndrome. The spirited nurse was looking at the door in anticipation of her friends’ arrival. "It’s funny how you get used to people being there and then one day, they’re just not." She looked kind of funny at the older nurse next to her. "Mom, are we ever going to get Danni and Garrett back…I mean…to the E.R.?"

Mom just shook her head in disbelief. "Weren’t you the one that wanted to crucify her on July first?"

"Well, yeah, but that was then. She ain’t so bad once you get to know her a little." Rosie shrugged her shoulders.

"And we have Danni to thank for that not so small feat." Mom sighed.

"You miss her, don’t you, Mom?"

Karen sniffed back a tear and nodded her head slowly. "Yes, I do. I miss them both." She hesitated, and then continued. "I even miss you, too, Rosie, when you’re gone for a length of time."

Rosie opened her mouth to answer that but just stared at the door instead. Then glancing over to Mom, she whispered. "Well, don’t look now, but the prodigal daughters just walked in." Her face was turning into a smile.

"Huh? Oh…ah…" Karen was trying to peer over top of the computer screen at her desk. Then the two familiar figures came into sight and her mind felt at ease. "Hi! How are you two doing today?"

The pair walked toward the desk, as each one, in their own way, waved and greeted the group, calling out their names as they came into view. Danni felt like she was coming home with all of the faces smiling her way.

Finally the question was asked. "What, no quick wave and run through of the E.R.? You two doing something different today?" Rosie was just being her usual smart aleck self.

Garrett raised her eyebrow at the remark. "Like we actually have a choice at what’s planned for us." The tall surgeon was not at all enthused about the day to come, and it was evident.

Danni just shook her head. "It’s not going to be that bad now, Garrett. Let’s try to be positive about this."

"I am. I’m positive that I’m not going to enjoy this morning."

"Why? What do they have planned for you this morning?" Mom asked, looking directly at Garrett.

The tall surgeon coughed and talked at the same time, causing her words to be mumbled and unintelligible.

"What did you say?" Mom looked at the uncomfortable posture of the surgeon. "Come on, it can’t be all that bad. Just say it and get it over with."

Her voice registered low and slightly more than a whisper at first. "Publicity photos. We have to have the publicity photos done today."

The petite nurse reached up and rubbed her hand across the back of the leather jacket that Garrett was wearing. "Now it wasn’t that bad to say, was it?" She looked up at her friend, trying to get her to agree. "Garrett?"

The tall woman was noticing that Danni took every chance that she could to be touching the leather of her jacket. ‘Hmm…could she be liking this jacket that much?’ "I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. Why can’t they just use my hospital I.D. photo?" The surgeon took her wallet out of her pocket and proceeded to sort through it until her hospital issued identification tag was in her hand. "Now, tell me, what’s wrong with that picture?" She held it out for everyone to see.

"Dr. Trivoli, nothing’s wrong with it…if you’re already in jail." The older nurse could barely keep a straight face. The tall surgeon was part of her family now, and fair game, just like everyone else. "If you showed me this, I wouldn’t leave you anywhere near my drugs. Yeah, this would make for a wonderful press release." All attempts to keep from laughing were put to a stop as Mom openly started a contagious belly laugh.

The surgeon just shook her head from side to side. "I should have expected as much from you."

The sight of a man slowly walking in through the doors took all of Garrett’s attention away from the group. She didn’t know what was wrong with the man, if anything, but her gut feelings were that he needed her help now. The surgeon had learned a long time ago to follow her intuitions without hesitation and this time was no different. She took off abruptly for the man as she lobbed her open wallet at Karen for safekeeping.

Karen caught the wallet as the contents spilled out onto the counter. "Hey, I was only teasing you. You didn’t have to throw…" She looked up to see Garrett catching the slumping man in her arms and laying him down on the floor. "Oh my! Danni, Rosie go help her." Mom quickly gathered up the disheveled contents of the wallet and stuffed them inside of her lab jacket pocket along with the wallet. She quickly made her way over to the empty stretchers lined along the hallway and wheeled one over to the area of activity by the door.

The two nurses quickly dropped to the cold tile floor and joined the surgeon as they tried to evaluate the cause of his collapse. Garrett hastily ascertained his ability to breathe as Danni searched for a pulse. The only visible sign of trouble at this time was the trickle of blood coming from the corner of his mouth. Rosie busied herself with the removal of his bulky outer clothing as they waited for Karen and their mode of transport to the back hallway and the Trauma Room.

"Sir! Sir!" The strong commanding voice of the surgeon broke through the quiet of the area but elicited no response for the man at her knees. Faces of the staff now emerged from every corner and filled the desolate hallway. "We need a little assistance here." Her words sparked a flurry of motion as the staff rallied to help and together they lifted the weighty man up from the floor and onto the waiting stretcher.

Within seconds they were in the room set up for such emergent needs, with all of the necessary equipment at their disposal. The impromptu team all worked together to find the cause of the patient’s ill health, each one accepting their role in this life or death scenario without a second thought. They were all there for the patient and for each other.

Mom assumed her role as overseer of the flurried activity within the brightly-lit room. Her job would be to record the actions taken and their time of deliverance, along with anticipating any ancillary needs of the team before her. She knew her job and did it well. The arrival of a technologist from the Radiology Department was evidence of that.

Garrett looked up from her patient as the last remnants of his clothing were stripped off, only to see the familiar face of the X-ray Tech across from her, as she loaded a cassette for an X-ray under the patient’s chest. When their eyes met, she nodded her approval and continued on with her physical assessment of the downed man. Only seconds later did she hear the warning, "Clear the chest. X-ray!" She reflexively withdrew her hands from that area of the body as she let her eyes continue assessing the man’s condition.

Danni and Rosie responded in their usually coordinated manner of working together. It was as if they had never been separated for the last two weeks. The petite blonde nurse assuming the role of Trauma Nurse One, as she readily connected the patient up to the telemetry monitor and verbalized the initial readings, as each one became available. "Pulse 110, BP 100 over 76." She turned to double check the positioning of the finger probe for the pulse oximeter, "O2 saturation 94 per cent."

Rosie was right next to the tall surgeon as she was that first day of Garrett’s fellowship, only this time any thoughts that she had were strictly on the patient as she worked feverishly to gain I.V. assess in the patient’s left arm. "Okay, I.V.’s in! Sixteen gauge in the left AC." She announced without ever really thinking about it, as she placed the last piece of tape to secure it in place.

"Okay, no injuries showing on his anterior aspect. Let’s role him and check his back." Garrett watched as the staff opposite her log rolled the patient’s body into themselves to expose his back to her. The skilled eyes of the surgeon roamed freely over the entire expanse of the man’s posterior surface. There, just below his costaphrenic angle on the right was a small laceration. She gently inserted her gloved finger to see the extent of its penetration. ‘Hmmm…there’s his rib,’ she moved her finger in the opposite direction. ‘Feels like a downward direction to me. Look’s like I’m going to get some surgical time in today since the team hasn’t responded here yet.’ She tried to fight back the happy feeling of being in the O.R. once again. "Get us an O.R. room, Mom. He’s been stabbed in the abdomen." She removed her finger and motioned for the patient to be placed on his back once more. "Let’s hang a unit of O positive blood. Somebody put in a Foley catheter and finish drawing the blood work." She stepped back and removed her bloodied gloves. "Get him typed and cross matched for four units and send them to the O.R."

The surgeon came out of the scurrying room of activity to view the now processed chest X-ray. Her keen eye studied it making sure that there was no need for the insertion of a chest tube into the man’s lung.

"Would you like an abdomen film, Doc?" The technologist waited patiently for her reply.

"Huh…oh, yeah! Get that film and then we’re off to the O.R." Her mind went back to the X-ray displayed on the viewer as she studied it once more.

Karen stuck her head out from the room. "O.R.’s ready and waiting for you." She winked at the tall surgeon when she saw the pleased look on her face. "You miss it, don’t you?"

"Yes, I do." Her tone was somber and for the first time in her life she thought about what it must be like to know that you can never do or be with something that you loved more than you own life. ‘I hope that never happens to me.’

Garrett pulled herself back to the situation at hand and stepped into the room. "Let’s get up to the O.R. They’ve got a room waiting for our patient." She smiled as she saw the already assembled entourage in its first steps toward the door. ‘You just got to love these people.’ Her thought surprised her. ‘Never thought I’d be saying that.’ The surgeon stepped to the side of the stretcher as it passed her and matched her steps to the forward motion that had already been established.

Once the patient was on his way to the O.R., Karen finished the last of the charting and went back to sit at her desk up front. Being a Charge Nurse had certain duties to it, one of which was being relegated to staying in the department. ‘Well, the least I can do now is put her wallet back together again.’ She pulled the rather thin looking wallet out of her pocket thinking how appropriate it was for her pseudo-daughter to have. ‘Nothing heavy to tie her down.’ She mindlessly pulled out the assorted bits of paper and plastic cards that had fallen out earlier and tried to give them some order before stuffing them back into the wallet. She couldn’t help but noticing the absence of photographs so far. ‘Now, that’s odd. Mine is stuffed with pictures of my family and friends.’ Then at the end of the pile she came upon a worn and slightly tattered photo. She tried to make out the faces on it but just couldn’t seem to get them into focus. Mom resorted to using her arm to move the photo back and forth to get a better view of it as she concentrated on it.

"Hey, Mom! What you trying to look at?" The pleasant voice of Danni called over to her. She moved closer trying to see.

"Oh, these darn bifocals. You’d think that they’d help." She handed the photo over to Danni. "Here, see if you can make out who’s in this."

Danni took it and studied it carefully. "Mom, where’d you find this?" A smile was slowly coming to her mouth. Her eyes dancing in merriment as she recognized the strong features of her roommate evident on the youthful face in the picture.

"It was in her wallet. Must have fallen out when she tossed it at me." Karen craned her neck trying to see it. "Who do you think it is?"

"Well, the tall one is definitely Garrett," she turned the photo over and looked at the back of it. The youthful writing on it made the nurse sigh as she ran her finger over it. ‘Luc, and me 1980. I’ll be…’ She flipped the photograph over and stared down at it. "It’s her brother," the words slowly came out almost like a prayer.

Rosie’s ears perked up. "Tall, dark, and gorgeous has a brother. How come she’s been keeping him a secret? Let me see." Rosie moved to get a better look from over Danni’s shoulder. "Well, I’ll be." She let out a low whistle. "I wonder were I can find him now."

Danni hesitated as she worked out the numbers in her head. ‘Let’s see, She told me that she was seventeen when the accident happened. Hmm…that would have been…’ then she slowly spoke. "I think this was taken the same year of the accident." The blonde closed her eyes wishing that she could bring him back to her friend. She knew that Garrett and her brother were close but this photo only confirmed it more. ‘By the gods, how she must miss him.’ The looks on their faces and the openness of their posture with one another in the photo told her all that she needed to know. In her mind she just wanted to go right up to that O.R. suite and find the tall surgeon and throw her arms around her in an understanding hug for the loss of such a vital part of her friend’s life. The petite nurse considered it, but knew that the stoic woman would just think her crazy.

Their attention was broken with the banging of the fire doors as John walked into the E.R. The male nurse was considered to be the black sheep of the E.R. family, as his sleazy reputation afforded him. Seeing the women standing around he put on a lecherous grin. "So, you girls want to be the first ‘Maids of Desire’ on my new website?" He held up a shiny looking pocket camera and pointed to it. "It’s digital." The assembled nurses all cringed at the thought. "Danni, come on," he winked at her. "I’ll make you and that tall roommate of yours famous on the Internet. What do you say?"

Nothing ever changed with John. She’d been absent from the E.R. for two weeks and he still wouldn’t pass up a chance to try to seduce her. No ‘Hi! How you been?’ just right to the point of his warped mind. Sex, that’s all her ever thought about. Then an idea came to her mind and a sly smile trickled across her face as she looked up at the camera and back down to the photograph in her hands. She had an idea and John’s camera was just what she needed at this moment. "So, you want a picture of Dr. Trivoli…eh?" She fanned herself with the photo and wiggled her eyebrows up and down.


Garrett finished scrubbing her hands as she donned her sterile gown and gloves. She adjusted them into place on her way to the surgical table. She positioned the lights and accepted the first of the sterile draping towels to expose the area over the already Betadine prepped abdomen. Upon placing the last drape, she looked up to see the hurried form of her colleague Dr. Chabot enter the room.

"Ah, Rene, you’ve come to assist me." She nodded. "I was wondering who would be my second."

He grabbed at the gown and thrust his arms into it. "McMurray sent me in here. He said that you’re not to be operating." He was breathing hard from running up the back stairs from his office. "He said that you already have a job to do and that I should let you go do it." His eyes searched hers, pleading for her not to take out her wrath on him. ‘I’m only the messenger.’

The tall surgeon’s eyes turned to a steely blue and the nurse standing next to her could feel a change in the climate of the operating theatre, as her stare seemed to turn the air to ice. She wanted to explode on him but knew that it would do no good for any of them, her patient included. The favor that the Board had asked for came dancing back through her head. Her gaze lessened and she let her hands come down to her sides as she stepped away from the table. She was a woman of honor and that meant keeping her word.

Rene moved to replace her at the patient’s side. His eyes looked into hers as he thanked the gods above for not letting him be the brunt of her anger. "I’ll take good care of him, Garrett." He nodded in assurance as he readied himself to take over for her.

Garrett pulled off her gloves as she relayed the knowledge she had about the patient and his injury site. She wasn’t used to walking out of an operating suite before the patient was even worked on. She made her way to the door, then turned and watched as the tall thin man guided his team to best serve the patient. ‘I hope that there’s something good that comes out of this next six months.’ Listening to the quiet direction of surgical equipment to use in the operation as Dr. Chabot began the surgical incision, she pulled open the door and left the operating theatre. ‘I better not keep my job waiting.’ She pulled off the gown and threw it into the first debris container that she passed as she made her way out of the O.R.


The bright lights were making the small blonde perspire as she stood waiting for her friend. It wasn’t going to be a physically strenuous day, but the heat of the lighting was sure to sap her strength. She could feel herself becoming anxious as she wondered how Garrett was making out in the O.R.

"Okay, I’m strapped for time. Set up for the individual shots." The man working with the camera was directing his assistants now. "Somebody give her that flight suit to put on. Come on now, we don’t have all day to get this shoot done."

Danni was handed the dark jumpsuit and directed to the entrance of the changing room. She walked through the studio taking in all that she could see. "Jeez, who would have thought that all this would be in a hospital."

The young assistant just laughed at her awestruck wonderment. "It’s actually not that much, just a big old room with some lighting and a few background props. I’m sorry, my name is Ronnie." She smiled at the blonde.

"I’m Danni, one of the…" Danni twisted and turned to see everything as she went by it, never finishing her introduction. "Is all this for us?"

"Nah, we do all the PR photos for the research and the special events that the medical staff is involved in." She stopped and opened the door to what Danni thought was a closet. "You can get changed in here. Just come out when you’re done. We’ll be waiting for you."

"Okay." She accepted the directions and entered the changing room, then paused. She stuck her head back out of the door saying, "Thanks, Ronnie. It was nice meeting you."

"My pleasure. You’d better hurry and get changed." The young woman looked around for the Photographer. "He hates to be kept waiting," then motioned with her head in his direction.

Danni nodded as she closed the door to the changing closet. She held out the bundle and let it unfold before her eyes. There wasn’t much to the uniform. It was nothing but a jumpsuit with a multitude of zippers and Velcro pockets all over it. After dressing quickly she looked into the mirror and had to laugh. She placed the flight helmet on her head. The mirror reflected back her image, making her look more like a miniature version of a space man. She started out the door only to find the high top jump boots reaching almost to her knee. She just shook her head and continued on. "I guess that’s the price you pay when you’re short.’ She thought of her tall, well-proportioned friend. "I bet she makes these look like a million bucks."

Danni made her way back to the group of people and found herself quickly positioned in a large area of emptiness, engulfed in lights, while hands reached in to tug and pull on her clothing and to arrange her hair. Within minutes she was the center of attention as everyone was talking to her and directing her as to how to stand and where to look. ‘Those models make it look so easy.’ The man with the camera circled around her, snapping and talking to her as he did. Just when she thought she knew where to look, they were yelling some other direction to her. ‘It surely can’t be this confusing for everyone.’

Then, finally from out of nowhere the shout came. "Alright everyone, take a fifteen minute break." The lights dimmed slightly and suddenly Danni was left there, standing all alone.

The photographer strolled over to the man seated in the corner out of the way. "You want me to give you an excited, accomplished looking subject for that PR release." He shook his head. "She looks more like a lost child out there." The photographer sat down next to the man. "Isn’t there someone else that you can use? I’m never going to get any good shots of this one."

Dr. McMurray nodded his head. "She’ll be alright. Danni’s a team player. She’ll do better when the other half of the team shows up." The Ol’ Cutter kept his eye on the young nurse. He could tell that she was floundering under the bright lights and all the attention.

She stood there with a questioning look on her face. It was like she was missing the other half of her soul and didn’t know where to find it. ‘I guess it’s not as easy as it looks.’ Danni looked up just as the tall figure came strolling into the room. She could tell instantly that her team member had arrived. Her face took on a new appearance and seemed to beam forth a newfound confidence in herself.

"Look!" McMurray whispered to the photographer. "That’s the image I want you to get."

The man quickly placed his camera to his eye and began to focus on the radiant women in the light. His face took on a new exuberance as he captured her on film, easily running through the roll in only a minute or two.

Danni never noticed the flashes going off around her. Her mind was only absorbed by the figure coming toward her. "Hey! Glad to see that you could make it, Doc." She smiled at her friend, still unable to see her in nothing but silhouette.

"Yeah, well, there’s not much left to do if your not allowed in the O.R." Garrett shrugged her shoulders. "I figured my job was down here."

The petite nurse reached out for her hand. "Come on. I’ll show you where your flight suit is."

Garrett felt the small hand in hers and a feeling of relief filled her. It was as if she was coming home after being away for a long time. She was no longer mad at being asked to leave the O.R., feeling that her place was here for some odd reason.

Danni turned to face the tall surgeon as she continued walking her through the maze of lighting equipment. "I’ve been waiting for you to come." Her face was full of love as her eyes met Garrett’s.

McMurray sat in his chair and smiled at what he was witnessing. It made his heart feel good to know that he was at the root of her change. With his vision obscured by the photographer making his way back over to the corner of the room, he lost track of the two women.

When he was only a step or two away, the photographer spoke. "So, who’s the tall, good looking one?" He motioned with his head toward the dark-haired beauty. "I’d like to get her on film. Heck, I’d like to have her, myself." He chuckled snidely.

"That, sir, is the other half of the team." The Ol’ Cutter turned to look at the salivating photographer. "And I don’t believe that you could handle her if you tried."

"A wild one, huh? What are they, your secretaries?"

McMurray curled his lip up into a smile as he nodded. "Head strong is more like it." ‘But I think she’s met her match.’ He thought about the two women and how they were coming together in their training and in their lives. He just sat there, a smile etched across his face. The Ol’Cutter wasn’t sure that the man could accept the fact that the pair of women he so loosely referred to were highly skilled caregivers. "My secretaries," he chuckled, "no, hardly."

Within a few minutes the tall woman had changed into her outfit and walked over to the lighted area with her flight helmet under her arm. Her figure was striking in the one-piece jumpsuit. Her tall form commanded attention and brought awe-inspired looks from the photography crew. She was all business as she asked where to go and what they wanted her to do.

Danni stood off to the side until directed to join her fellow team member on the backdrop area. They wanted a picture with the both of them standing side by side. Each of the women waited for the crew to address the small details of their clothing and hair. Their minds deep in thought as they tried to calm themselves. The photographer walked around them, letting his gaze wash over the entire length of their bodies. He snapped his fingers and pointed to Danni. The assistants scurried, rushing back with a small stool.

"Step on it." He directed the blonde. "Much better. Now you," he pointed to Garrett. "Come just a little closer to the lens." She complied and looked slightly back to her right at Danni. "Look at me, not her," he snapped. "Okay, now I want you to think of something that would make you very happy for Christmas." He positioned himself, watching the women’s faces in the viewfinder of the camera and waited.

‘Christmas, huh?’ Danni’s face lit up as she thought about the idea she had for Garrett’s present. ‘She’s never going to expect that. I’ve got to remember to thank John for his help.’

The tall woman’s eyes twinkled as she remembered her friend’s fondness for touching her leather jacket earlier in the day. ‘I guess I’ll call the closest Navy base for that. Hmm…I wonder if they even come in her size.’ The corners of her mouth turned upward as she imagined the look on Danni’s face when she opened the box.

The photographer quietly watched and at the appropriate moment began taking his pictures. After exhausting his roll of film he switched cameras and walked slowly around the two women.

His quick hand jerks and the snapping of his fingers brought the support crew to life once more. Ladders were being positioned and equipment was being moved to his constant directions. The two subjects of the photography session just stood there until his gaze turned to them and, with a flourish of hand motions, he dismissed them from their position.

Once on the sidelines of the activity, Danni watched as the backdrop that they had used was efficiently rolled up and another one was repositioned in its place. The crew moved in the ladders and swiftly moved several of the boom lighting stands out of the way. Ronnie and another crewman carried a pole with different lights attached to it and began climbing the ladders.

"Hey, Gar, what do you think they’re going to do with that?"

Garrett turned a watchful eye to the pair as they climbed to nearly the top of the ladders. "I’m not sure, but I guess we’ll find out."

"Come on now, I don’t have all day for this shoot. I want that up higher and over more." He waved his hands and cursed under his breath. "No! Not there. Over more Ronnie. Can’t you move it any further?" His voice sounded angry.

Danni felt like it was like a slow motion viewing of an event. She knew what was about to happen but had no way of stopping it. Before she could even shout out a warning, Ronnie was falling from atop the ladder. Within seconds the sound of the body impacting with the hard floor was reverberating in everyone’s ears and the lifeless form lay draped over the small stool that Danni had been given to stand on.

The photographer spun around to see the woman on the ground. "Jeez! Don’t go and bleed on the backdrop." His hands moved excitedly. "Hurry up, get her off of there."

The surgeon and the nurse sprang into action, each one sensing what the other would do. Danni found the phone and called the E.R. reporting the nature and whereabouts of the accident within the hospital itself. Garrett made her way to the downed woman. "I wouldn’t touch her if I were you," she warned.

The photographer stopped short and retreated back a step as Garrett pushed past him to get to the figure on the ground.

The surgeon quickly knelt down, positioning herself at the victim’s head, making sure that the woman was still breathing on her own. Having noted the rise and fall of her chest and the gentle flaring of her nostrils, Garrett checked for the quality of the patient’s breathing. ‘Good deep inspirations.’ Then she moved on to see where all the bleeding was from. The petite nurse was coming into view as she looked around for something to help contain the bleeding.

"Ronnie, can you hear me? Ronnie!" Danni called out her name. The muffled sound of mumbling was evident as the woman began to stir. "Don’t move. You’ve fallen. We’ll take care of you." The nurse brushed back the loose hair that had fallen across the patient’s face. "You’re gonna be alright, just let us take care of you."

"Did you get us some help, Danni?"

"Yeah, I called the E.R. and told them we needed a backboard, collar and a stretcher."

Garrett was assessing the patient’s extremities now. Carefully checking each of the arms and legs for any signs of deformity or swelling. ‘Obvious deformity in the left leg. I bet she landed on that one.’ The leg was twisted underneath her and the lower half of her pant leg was beginning to soak through with blood. The surgeon looked around at the people gathered around the outskirts of the lit area. "I need a knife or a pair of scissors."

"Here, will this help?" An older man stepped out of the shadows, holding out a pocketknife.

"Yeah, thanks." She took the offered knife and opened it. Using the large blade, she carefully slit the jeans up the side of the pant leg and exposed the injured site. The skin was hanging from the avulsion and the jagged ends of the bones were showing. It was going to be a nasty fracture, nothing that couldn’t be repaired. "How’s she doing, Danni?"

"Mumbling some, but nothing really coherent." Danni continued to talk softly as she maintained stabilization of the patient’s head.

The clamoring of the arriving group of caregivers announced their arrival. The speed and efficiency that the combined group worked with was evident to all that watched. Within minutes of when the teamwork had begun, the patient was placed in a cervical collar and on a backboard. The flurry of activity was all being directed by the tall, dark-haired woman in the flight suit.

The photographer stood there not moving a muscle, his eyes riveted to her. When the activity had subsided and the entourage of caregivers gone, he walked slowly around the site of the earlier commotion as though he was in shock.

Sensing his inability to cope with the situation, McMurray approached him. "You okay?"

"She…she…" he stammered. "She was telling them all what to do. Why would they listen to a secretary?"

McMurray just chuckled at the thought. He patted the photographer’s shoulder gently and said. "Times have changed, my boy. They’re not just secretaries any more."


The E.R. was buzzing with excitement when the group made its way into the trauma room. The full team had been alerted and was assembled there, waiting for the patient. Garrett noted that it felt funny to be arriving with the patient. After giving a brief report about the patient in hand-off to Rene, the flight-suited surgeon left to go stand in the hallway with Danni.

"Hey, nice outfits. Do you know where I can get one?"

Danni felt the tug on her sleeve. "Huh?" She turned to see John standing next to her, a smile plastered across his face.

"Nice try, but it still won’t get you two on my ‘twins’ page."

"Knock it off, John." Danni wasn’t in a mood to be toyed with, especially not by John. "We were doing the photo shoot for PR when one of the crew became injured. These," she pulled at her jumpsuit, "are the flight suits that we’ll be wearing."

"Oh…you mean you’re still going to do that helicopter thing, even after what just happened in North Carolina? I thought you didn’t like to fly."

"North Carolina…why…what happened in North Carolina?" Danni was curious now.

"You didn’t hear?" John looked at the surgeon and then back to the nurse. "One of the medivac helicopters went down. It burst into flames, killing the pilot."

Garrett’s eyes narrowed as she studied John’s face. "What happened to the rest of the crew?"

"They’re fine. The pilot got some kind of warning signal or message and put down so that they could ground transport the patient. They thought that the problem was fixed and on the test flight it just happened."

The petite nurse gasped as her hand grabbed at Garrett’s sleeve. She was trying hard not to react to the news. Her face turned pale and she could feel the butterflies multiplying in her stomach. ‘How am I ever going to get through this. I can’t pull out now.’

The surgeon sensed Danni’s fear. ‘I’ve got to do something to keep her from thinking about this.’ Come on, Dan. We had better go get our clothes back at the studio." She nudged her shoulder and once she had Danni’s attention, motioned for her to follow.

"Yeah, right…our clothes." The nurse was pre-occupied, her mind seeing flaming balls dropping from the sky, but her body followed after the surgeon.


McMurray stood waiting patiently at the door for his team when they were ready to leave. "You two worked well together today," he called out.

Garrett felt Danni nudging her in his direction. "Considering…" the tall surgeon questioned him with her raised eyebrow.

"You both knew your responsibilities and you did your best." The man shrugged. "I want to thank you both for the help you gave us in the E.R. today."

"Well, we were right there and everything just kind of clicked together." Danni was honest in her facts.

"I know. That’s why the Board wanted you two for this project." He reached out and touched Garrett’s shoulder. "Six months isn’t too long. You’ll see."

"Yes, sir." Garrett nodded her head. "Did he make it?"

McMurray thought for a moment. "Oh, Dr. Chabot’s patient, yes, he’s doing fine. Said that he was out shopping for Christmas when someone came up and robbed him. I guess they thought that they needed an advantage, so they stabbed him."

The surgeon smiled weakly, "That’s good that he came through alright then."

"Come on, Garrett. We need to get to class." She stepped around her friend and acknowledged the Chief of Trauma Services nodding, "Dr. McMurray."

He stepped aside and watched as the pair walked down the long corridor. Listening, he could hear the almost non-stop banter of the smaller woman as she tried to cheer her friend out of her self-imposed doldrums.

"So are you hungry? I’m starved, want to go to the gift shop on the way to class?"

The tall woman just raised her head and rolled her eyes. ‘Where does she put it all?’ "Yeah, I guess I could use some coffee."

"Okay, but it’s my turn to buy." Danni stopped dead in her tracks. "Jeez, I almost forgot. Mom said to give this to you." She dug into her coat pocket and pulled out the thin wallet. She smiled as she handed it to the surgeon.

Garrett took it and pressed it into the interior pocket of her leather jacket. "Thanks, Danni."

"No need for thanks." ‘Well, at least not yet.’ She wrinkled up her nose and smiled as she thought about the holiday that was fast approaching. "Now, come on…I’m starved." With that, she hastened her pace to keep up with her soaring spirits.



Chapter 3

Garrett stood staring off into the distance. Up on the roof of the hospital, it was as though you could see for miles. Her head turned to survey the glowing city skyline. Each tall building stood out as a testament to the men who built it. ‘I wonder if they ever doubted their effort?’ Her thoughts mirrored her own doubts about the effort that she was giving in the final half of her Fellowship. It seemed like no effort at all, except for her to stay out of the operating theatre.

The bitter wind at her face was no match for her resolve. She had come up here to think and sort out some of her life without any interruptions. It was quiet up here, away from the rest of the world. She looked down on the streets below watching the random moving of the people as they traveled in the cars below. Each one either moving toward or away from some familiar destination, all in a hurry to be with loved ones, whether they were near or far.

She looked up into the darkening night sky and let her eyes shift from one faintly glistening star onto another. The heavens were full of shimmering lights tonight, some of them shining more brightly than others. Like an old navigator trying to set his course, she sought out the North Star using the position of the Big Dipper for her guide. She’d learned a lot in the Navy, more than she realized. The surgeon closed her eyes and imagined herself once again out on the deck of the aircraft carrier, with the strong seas rolling beneath her.

The Flight Surgeon had worked savagely trying to save the young man. The numerous wounds and severity of the blows had made it impossible to stop the bleeding. Within minutes of reaching her operating table, the young seaman was dead. Her mind could not fathom anything with such a degree of morbidity as to what the body before her attested. She needed to know what had caused the man’s death. No, not medically, but mechanically. She had seen for herself the horrors of automobile and airplane crashes as a surgical resident. Nothing compared to this.

The tall woman stood with her hands tightly wrapped around the railing on the ship. She watched out over the sea as the waves broke and then came crashing down on themselves. The sound of the waves deadened her nerves with its watery lullaby.

She had never seen as many emotions on one face as she had earlier today. She closed her eyes and the scene was immediately before her again. The lone sailor standing vigil for his comrade. She wasn’t sure which emotion was strongest or which was more touching to her heart. It didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that his friend was gone.

She tried to cast the images out of her head, but before she could, she felt a presence around her. Slowly she turned to see the gaunt face of the seaman with his haunted eyes. She didn’t know what he wanted but she was sure that it would be in reference to his fallen friend. She turned around to face him and returned his salute.

"Permission to speak, Ma’am" His voice was strong and clear with a hint of determination in his manner. He had something to say and it was going to be now or never.

"Permission granted, Sailor. Stand at ease." She waited patiently for him to speak.

"I want to thank you, Ma’am, for working on my…" he paused to clear his throat and then continued. "…On Seaman first class Williams. I know that you did your best and that he would have been grateful for your effort." Tears were stinging in his eyes as he thought of his friend.

She nodded in acceptance. "I did what any Military Surgeon would have done. I only did my job."

"I know that Ma’am, but you didn’t give up."

The words were echoing through her head as the image of the young man faded from her mind. ‘Maybe it will be worth it.’ The surgeon looked back down to the streets below. Garrett thought about her new role here in the Fellowship, and everything became clearer to her. She was here for a reason and whatever it was, she wasn’t about to give up.

She took one long last look at the night sky and began to walk toward the portal to go back inside and rejoin the world again. Looking over in its direction, she noticed that it was open now and a small figure was silhouetted against the incandescent light of the bare bulb hanging within the stairwell. The stature of the figure brought only one person to her mind, Danni. The surgeon found a smile slowly coming to her lips the closer she came to the doorway.

She watched as the form stepped back on the top landing of the stairwell, letting its figure bathe in the light. The warm glow of the light dulled in comparison to the exuberance of love radiating in her direction. The petite nurse had a heart that could encompass the world and usually did. Her patients could all attest to that. The nurse could make them feel so at ease with her friendliness, giving her heart without a care as to how it was handled. She gave whatever she thought was needed to expedite the patient’s recovery. Danni chose to reveal her true inner beauty to only a certain few, letting them into that peerless heart of hers, to do as they please. The surgeon was privileged to be one of them and realized the responsibility that came with it. Garrett knew that she could never allow anything to hurt her friend, physically or emotionally.

"Hey!" The blonde’s quiet smile was evident even in her greeting. "I was hoping you hadn’t left without me."

The surgeon’s lopsided grin was her only reply as she advanced into the doorway. "How’d you know where to look for me?"

"It’s my getaway up here when the world seems to be crashing in on me. I come up her and just let my spirit soar out over the rooftops. Sooner or later my mind settles and I calm down." She brushed past the surgeon, walking out onto the roof. Taking an exaggerated deep breath with her eyes closed, she turned slowly around with her arms outstretched and then pulled them in tightly to herself as she crossed her chest. "I can almost sense the peace and quiet of the forest here: the air cleansing my mind with its clean smell and fresh scent." She opened her eyes and became noticeably shy as she shrugged her shoulders. "My mother told me that I was a bit of a dreamer, always waiting for the natural wonders of the world to come to me."

Garrett stood watching her, taking in the entire innocence of the moment. Before her stood a woman who was more like a child in her wonderment of the world than the capable caregiver she had come to know, whose dreams seemed to be only the pure and simple kind. The surgeon was beginning to see so much of her brother in the young woman that sometimes, from a distance with the shadows playing tricks on her eyes, she thought that Lucas was here again, in her presence. ‘How could I have been so blind, not to have seen it before?’ Then, she thought of her brother beaming down on her with pleasure and it inspired her. ‘Thanks, little brother for looking out for me.’

"Well, what do you say we take our dreams home and get some rest? We’ve got a full day tomorrow." The surgeon beckoned to her.

"Yeah," she nodded with a weak smile. "That sounds like a plan to me."

The two women headed for the stairway, neither having any need to speak, yet knowing the presence of the other’s mind. Each one was a little nervous about the events of the next day. They didn’t need to draw any more attention to it or their own thoughts about it. It would be their D-day and the truth would be there for all to see. They had to prove that they could indeed deliver an intact and functional Flight Team to a destination and back. The question that everyone was concerned about, was could the nurse keep it together and deliver the payload without becoming a casualty herself?

Danni thought about how lonely it would feel to watch Garrett take off, matched up with another nurse. ‘It would be like watching half of myself leave, never knowing if it would ever return.’ At the bottom of the first set of stairs she turned to look back at her friend, the worry and loneliness etched across her face. "Gar…" she bit at her lip, undecided whether to continue or not.

Sensing the trepidation in her voice, the surgeon looked into Danni’s eyes and saw the concern in the wallowing green pools. Garrett stopped on the landing. She had to find out what was wrong before it took any further hold on the nurse. "What’s on your mind, Danni?" She watched as the young woman still battled within herself. "Come on. We’re a team, let’s talk about it." She lowered her body to meet Danni eye to eye.

With furrowed brow the young woman searched the face of her teammate then started. "What if tomorrow’s the end of our team? I mean…what if I can’t do my job up there and just go off in some catatonic trance? I’ll never get to work with you again."

"Hey, don’t go thinking like that. We work well together. Our numbers prove that. Heck, it’s what got us in this team, isn’t it?" She reached over with her hand and gently lifted the nurse’s chin so that they made eye contact once more. "We’ll do fine up there, you’ll see. We’ll do our job. I can always count on you to do that, whether it’s in the Trauma room, out on the softball field, at a photo shoot or up in the air." Garrett narrowed her gaze and let the fire of her crystals penetrate deep within the shimmering green as she tried to drive home her point. "WE ALWAYS DO OUR JOB. Right?"

Danni was receiving the message louder and clearer than she dared even think was imaginable. ‘She thinks of us as a team, I can’t let her down now.’ Resigning to try her hardest, she slowly nodded in acknowledgement of Garrett’s belief in her ability to come through when the chips were down. She only hoped that her tall, dark-haired friend was right.

"Now, enough of this worrying. What do you say we go home and relax?" They nodded in unison. Each one trying to reassure the other as smiles slowly resurfaced. "Hey, I’ll even get dinner ready for us. How’s that?"

"I didn’t know that you could cook?" Danni was a little reluctant about this newest revelation of her friend’s abilities.

"Well…" the surgeon started off toward the door to the inner hallway and the elevators. "I never said that I’d actually cook now, did I?" She smiled mysteriously and winked at the petite blonde, then laughed.

Danni shook her head and smiled. "No, I guess you didn’t. Okay, let’s go home. Now you’ve got me curious as to what’s for dinner."

The surgeon just smiled as she reached out, pushing the button to summon an elevator.

‘This I gotta see.’ Danni just watched as the doors opened and the two stepped on. ‘She never ceases to amaze me. There always seems to be something more to her when you think that you have her all figured out.’


The ride home had been a quiet one, with only occasional words spoken between the two women. The majority of the limited conversations pertained strictly to the sights and sounds of the approaching holiday. The brightly colored lights and glistening decorations that seemed to be on just about every door or window gave the quaint streets an almost "Dickens" feel. The ethnic neighborhoods of the city, all giving a distinct flavor to the decorating style of its residents made for a rich and flavorful distraction.

Danni hadn’t spoken much on the way home. She had been doing a lot of speculating and thinking of ways to overcome her fear between now and tomorrow morning. ‘Maybe if I just get my mind off of it, I’ll do better.’ She looked around for something to occupy her mind. ‘Who knows, I may even end up enjoying the helicopter ride.’ She picked up the pile of mail and started sorting through it. ‘Yeah, fat chance of that happening.’ The nurse pulled out the two or three pieces of mail with the surgeon’s name on it and placed it in a neat pile by her keys and pager on the hall stand.

"Hey, Gar! How long before dinner?" Danni looked at the return addresses on her mail. "Do you think that I have time to open my mail?"

The voice came floating in from the kitchen, "Sure! It’ll take me a little while to get things done." There was the sound of kitchenware clanging in the background as doors and drawers opened and closed. "I’ll call you when it’s ready."

Danni looked out towards the kitchen, her face attested to her puzzlement at what could be going on with all of the noise that she was hearing. "Okay!" She hesitated, then continued. "Gar, if you need any…"

"No, I’ve got it covered. Thanks."

The petite woman settled onto the couch as she started to open the first envelope. A thought sprang through her mind. ‘I wonder if she’s…nah, she doesn’t seem like the type to want to find their Christmas presents.’ Danni let her mind visualize the gift-wrapped box that now resided in her nightstand drawer. ‘I’ve got to remember not to send her in there for another razor until after Christmas.’ She smiled at the thought and started on the pile of mail in her lap.

Garrett busied herself in the kitchen trying to find something…anything that she could make. ‘You had to go and volunteer, didn’t you?’

It wasn’t that the domesticated world was foreign to her, it just didn’t fit the surgeon’s demanding career. She’d been on her own since she went away to college. Between fast food and cafeteria cuisine, she never needed to provide much more than a sandwich or a bowl of cereal for her daily sustenance. ‘Now, what am I going to make? Hmmm…’ she kept looking through the cupboards in search of anything that would be within her limited capabilities. She found herself muttering under her breath. "You’re a skilled surgeon and perform major lifesaving operations with intricate procedures on patients, there has to be something here that you can…." Her eyes got bigger as she reached for the box on the shelf. "Yeah, I can do this," her voice taking on a renewed determination. She hurriedly looked through the rest of the shelves finding the necessary items to accompany the contents of the box, then set her plans in motion.

The ruckus had subsided from the kitchen and quiet was growing like the calm before a storm. Danni gave thought to investigating the sudden stillness, but decided to have complete and utter confidence in her roommate’s ability to make something for dinner. ‘I’d trust her with my life if I ever needed her skills as a surgeon. I’m sure she can handle making something to eat.’ The nurse bit her lip for a moment, then forced herself to press on to the next piece of mail in her hands.

Her eyes gazed over the front of the envelope, searching for some clue as to whom the sender was. The large looped fancy scroll of the writing was all that she needed to see. She had seen that style of penmanship all of her life. She quickly opened it and set about reading the card from her parents, more specifically, her mother. The Christmas card was of her usual type, the kind that automatically told you who it was from after reading the few words across the front of it. Somehow after all these years, "Merry Christmas to Our Daughter" seemed like a dead giveaway.

Danni’s brow furrowed as she opened the card to reveal the standard printed sentiments on the inside. Instead of the usual scrolling of "Love, Mother and Dad," there were a few sentences penned before it. ‘I guess that I’m still being reprimanded for missing Thanksgiving Dinner with them.’ Her eyes quickly skimmed across the message. Bewildered by the conveyed thoughts, she reread them, only this time aloud as she tried to understand them more fully. "We hope that your plans will include visiting us on Christmas Eve. The family would love to meet your friend, Garrett. If at all possible, please attend. Love, Mother and Dad." ‘By the gods, it sounds like they are summoning me home. Hmm…but why with Garrett?’

"Hey, Dan, where do you keep your…" Garrett saw the deep thought that was etching itself across the younger woman’s brow. "Something wrong?" She motioned toward the card that was still in Danni’s hand. "Pretty special looking card there." The surgeon’s eyebrow rose slightly.

"Huh? Oh, this. No, it’s my Mother’s usual Christmas card, just not her usual penned phrase this year."

"You still taking heat about working on Thanksgiving?" Garrett sounded concerned. ‘Jeez, I know that she did that for me.’

"No," she smirked. "The funny thing is, that’s what I expected. Here take a look at it." Danni handed the card over. "Mother hasn’t mentioned a thing about Thanksgiving to me."

The surgeon read through the card then pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Gee, Danni, you’ll have to give your mother my apologies for not being able to attend."

"You’re working Christmas Eve? I thought you told me that you were covering Christmas Day." ‘Great! Tell me I volunteered to work sixteen hours on the wrong day.’

Garrett smiled, chuckling as she answered. "I felt bad for Nathan and Rene both. I told Nathan I’d cover for him on Christmas Eve from 1800 hours on so he could go home for Christmas." She shrugged. "I figured that it was the least that I could do for them. Besides, I’ll get to treat some real patients for a day and a half."

"McMurray and the Board are all right with that? I mean…they’re going to let you?"

"Not much that they could do. They needed someone here and since I don’t have any family to go home to, it was the only logical choice." ‘But it will be like going home to family for me.’ Garrett thought of the assortment of characters that comprised her new family. ‘Yeah, and with you there for sixteen hours, I’ll really feel at home.’

"Humph! Well, I guess I’ll let Mother know that it will be just me coming home for Christmas Eve." The blonde looked thoughtful as she concentrated on the strange smell coming from the kitchen. "Say, what are you making for dinner, anyway?" She sniffed at the air. "Almost smells like…"

Garrett sniffed at the air also. "Oh, damn!" Then took off for the kitchen, all thoughts of Christmas now forgotten.

Danni chuckled. ‘I’m sure glad that she has other talents to fall back on.’ "Hey, Gar! You better not quit your day job. I don’t think that there’s too much need for Chefs that specialize in Blackened cooking." ‘Besides I bet I could find a few things for you to do with those skilled hands of yours.’ The nurse just shook her head. ‘Where did that come from?’

She picked up the few cards that were left to open and quickly busied her hands as if they would get her mind thinking about something other than the talented surgeon. With the last card left to open, her mind was once again thinking of the Christmas holiday to come with memories stirred by family and good friends. ‘You know, this writing looks vaguely familiar.’ Danni thought of a few people that it could belong to but dismissed all of them. Her curiosity now piqued, she opened it. A softly broadening smile came across her face. ‘David! Isn’t that thoughtful of him? He still hasn’t forgotten us.’

Garrett had stuck her head into the doorway from the kitchen, when she noticed the beaming smile of her young friend. ‘I wonder if that smile is because I’m making dinner tonight?’ Then she noticed the card that the blonde was holding and glancing down at. ‘Whoever sent that card must be somebody special by the look on her face.’ She felt an overpowering urge to be jealous but couldn’t think of why or whom she should be jealous of. ‘Let it go, Garrett. She’s got her own life. Not everything revolves around you.’

"You ready to eat?" She waited for an answer as she watched the young woman before her eyes, as Danni’s mind was a million miles away. "Danni, dinner’s ready."

"Huh? Oh yeah, dinner. I’ll be right there, Gar." She motioned with her head as she glanced over in the dark-haired woman’s direction. ‘I’m going to have to tell Mom and Rosie about the card the next time that I see them.’ She put the card down on top of the pile and went toward the kitchen.

Danni looked around the kitchen as she stood in the doorway. The lighting had been reduced to only the glow of the light from the rangehood, giving the room a moody atmosphere of mystery. The table was set with two place settings and food was neatly piled on the plates. "Safe to come in?" Her eyes swept the room for the tall surgeon. ‘Hmmm…I wonder if the lighting is to hide the burnt offerings or to lessen the stress of the day that we had?’

Garrett came in from the door at the rear of the kitchen, a bottle of wine in her hand. "Brrr! It’s cold out there. I figured that it would take less time than the fridge to chill this down outside." She took one look at the amazed blonde and held the bottle up in offering to her. "I thought some wine would go nicely with the meal. Besides, it will help us relax and get some sleep tonight." She pushed the door closed and locked it. "Nothing goes better with spaghetti than a little wine. What do you say?"

"Spaghetti? You made spaghetti."

"Well, my last name is Trivoli." The surgeon laughed as she began pouring the wine into glasses.

"But I didn’t think…I…" The nurse looked over at the cupboard next to the counter where her pantry was. ‘I know that I didn’t have any spaghetti sauce. Where’d she…’

"Come on, sit down and eat before it gets cold."

Danni did as she was instructed taking note of the table and its settings. The nurse was learning something new about her friend. ‘I’m impressed. She even has the knack of setting a pleasantly looking table. I guess she’s just full of all sorts of hidden talents.’ She looked at the spaghetti that was so neatly arranged on the plate in front of her, the aroma of which wafted up, filling her senses. She closed her eyes to concentrate, trying to analyze the many intermingled scents that filled the air.

Garrett watched her friend closely as she sat down at her place and quietly drew her chair in closer to the table. She studied the expression on the young woman’s face, eager to find out if she would be pleased with the offering. ‘Well, it’s not dad’s sauce but it can’t be too bad. Heck, I watched him make it often enough, I should have remembered something.’

Finally the nurse opened her eyes to see the tall woman across from her become a little startled and grab for her napkin, quickly unfolding it to lay across her lap. The rapidly flicking motion of the surgeon’s eyes was a dead give away that she had been watching the blonde intently. Danni only smiled coyly, the skin around her eyes wrinkling slightly at the outer corners. ‘Well, it looks and smells good. I bet she’s anxious. Hmm… how cute that apprehension is on her face. I bet many people haven’t seen that side of her before.’ She picked up her fork and twirled a small bite on the tines. The nurse glanced up to see Garrett once again watching, and smiled graciously at her as she brought the fork full of spaghetti to her mouth. ‘Okay, no matter what it tastes like, I’m not going to…’ She placed the food into her mouth as she deftly slipped the fork out and began to chew. ‘By the gods,’ she looked over at eagerly waiting eyes. ‘This is…’

The anticipation was too much. Garrett quickly let her eyes shift from the young woman’s face to the plate of spaghetti and back again. "What?" She was getting worried now. ‘Jeez! Tell me that I forgot something.’ Her mind quickly went down the list of ingredients that she had used in the sauce. ‘I know that it’s been a while since I’ve made any. No, I didn’t miss anything that could be detrimental to it.’

The blonde stopped chewing and swallowed. ‘What could she have used for this?’ Her mind was trying to put together some kind of idea. She saw the concerned look on Garrett’s face and couldn’t help but giggle.

‘Gosh, she’s laughing at it now. I must have done something wrong.’ The surgeon speedily twirled a forkful and placed it in her own mouth. The delicate tastes burst forth across her palate as she searched for the cause of her friend’s reaction. It was getting just too much now. She had to know. "What?" She asked as she tried to swallow.

Danni face lit up and her smile showed brightly. ‘I’ve never seen her so concerned. She’s not even this worried when she’s got somebody’s life oozing out all over the place.’ She reached out and placed her hand on Garrett’s trying to calm her fear. "It’s okay. Great, if you really want to know." She smirked. "I just can’t figure out what you used to make it."

The surgeon breathed a little easier now as she sighed in relief. "Well, I had to make due with what you had in the pantry. It’s surprising what you can do with odds and ends." Her mouth curled up in a smile.

"Okay, I’ll bite. What did you use?"

"Well, first off was the Heinz Ketchup and a can of stewed tomatoes. Then I used the spices in your rack, oregano, celery salt, garlic powder, and added a touch of my dad’s special ingredient." Her eyebrows were wiggling as she teased. The shifting of Danni’s hand on hers as she began to laugh at the site Garrett was giving her made the surgeon a little self-conscious about the lingering contact, and she slowly withdrew her hand to her lap. Suddenly she felt alone and contemplated bringing her hand back up on the table. ‘What’s all that about?’ The surgeon forced her mind to the conversation at hand.

"What special ingredient?" Danni tried to not let the loss of contact with her friend disturb her, but it did. ‘Why does it feel so natural to reach out to her?'

Garrett picked up her utensil and began pushing the food around her plate. The stolen glances only confirmed her suspicions. The nurse was watching her closely. With her eyes cast downward to the food in front of them, Garrett mumbled the name of the secret ingredient. "Sugar."

"What did you say?" Danni leaned toward the woman across from her. "Did you just say, ‘sugar’?" The young woman shook her head. "I’ve never had pot luck spaghetti before. Gee, I guess red sauce is right up your alley." She smiled, her eyes laughing with kindness.

"Hey, blood isn’t the only red liquid that I’m familiar with, if I do say so myself." The surgeon’s eyebrow raised slightly in mock dare.

"Guess not. Ketchup…huh?" The two woman both let the lightheartedness of the conversation take them over as they continued the playful banter throughout the rest of the meal, all thoughts in anticipation of the grueling next day was pushed out of their minds.


The friendly ease that the evening had given the woman before her attempt to sleep didn’t abate the long bouts of restlessness and tortured nightmares. She was worried, and rightfully so. Danni didn’t want to lose the close working relationship that she now had with the surgeon. The nurse knew what she was like on a flight of any kind, the only thing that kept coming to her was her own feeble attempts in the past to overcome her fear. She tossed and turned all night with the fear of the helicopter flight in the morning. If only she could do well enough to be kept with the team, she was sure that Garrett’s strength and friendship would help her, over the course of time, to feel more comfortable with the situations that would arise.

Morning came all to swiftly and the hours quickly flew by. Before Danni knew it, she was standing in the E.R. waiting for Garrett to join her. She looked down at her watch. It was 0900. The nurse marveled at her acceptance of military time since the tall surgeon had entered her world. It was just one more thing that put them on the same page, separating them from the rest of the world around them. Little by little, the young woman was realizing that her world was growing with the addition of Garrett in her life, but shrinking also. She found her world more complete and satisfying when the two of them worked together, especially now.

‘Don’t let that all end today. We make such a good team. I don’t want to be the cause of that falling apart.’ Her mind raced with her own thoughts as the words ‘falling apart’ dredged up her fear of flying and caused the butterflies in her stomach once again to flutter their wings. The fingers of her small hand gently rubbed her flight suit over the area of her abdomen, as she tried to pacify those wings from bursting into full upward motion.

Mom was just coming out of the conference room when she caught sight of the small blond looking out the window at the helipad. She could sense the trepidation in her pseudo-daughter and ventured over to her, compelled to help in any way that she could. "Hey, know anywhere that I could get a suit like that?" She walked up to Danni and rubbed the material of the flight suit between her thumb and forefinger. "Sure makes for an nice look. Doesn’t feel bad either." She chuckled.

"Hi, Mom." Danni’s mood was somber, although she was trying hard at masking her feelings.

"What’s the matter, Danni? Anything that I can do to help?" Karen leaned up against the window ledge.

Danni looked at the older nurse’s face, then back out to the helipad. She blinked and then slowly began. "Today’s…today’s the test flight to see if we…I can make the team." The blonde looked downward, then closed her eyes for a moment as though in prayer. She opened them back up and looked at Karen, her eyes conveying her feelings. "I don’t want to let Garrett down, Mom. We’ve become so close over the last few weeks that I…"

"I know, Danni, I know." Karen patted her shoulder. "You never left me down in all the years that I’ve known you. I’m sure that you won’t let Garrett down now." Mom offered a smile, hoping that Danni would follow along. "Just do your best. I’m sure that once you get started, you won’t even have to think about what needs to be done."

Danni smiled weakly in return. "That’s what I’m hoping for Mom."

The older woman took Danni into her embrace and hugged her like a small tyke. ‘God, watch over my child.’ Then her other pseudo-daughter came to her mind. ‘Watch over both my children.’ She hugged the small woman just a little tighter with that thought before she slowly released her grip, stepping back to view the young woman’s face.

Danni looked up into the understanding eyes. Her smile broadened as she cautiously nodded at Karen. "Thanks, Mom. I think I needed that."

"See, I knew staff meetings were good for something."

Danni furrowed her brows at Karen. "Huh?"

"Well, I wouldn’t have been here now if it wasn’t for that mandatory Charge Nurse meeting with Nan." She winked and chuckled softly. "At least it was good for some reason." Karen watched as the tiny spark of Danni’s ever-eager spirit was once again returning to those green eyes of hers. ‘Yep, best staff meeting that I’ve ever attended and probably the most important one, right here with Danni.’ The young woman smiled warmly as she turned to view the length of hall coming from the elevators, trying as she might to get a fix on someone in the distance.


Rene Chabot stood silently in the doorway of the small office. The very intense look on his colleague’s face as she viewed the computer screen was of concern to him. She was deep in thought and had not even heard him open the door. Garrett’s eyes scanned the screen as she read down the page of words, her finger tapping at the ‘page down’ button every few moments.

The tall, thin, French-Canadian finally spoke up. "Reading up on some new operation that I should know about, or just killing a little time?" He motioned toward the monitor.

Garrett finished the sentence that she was reading then looked up with a questioning glance. "Operation? No, nothing like our kind of operation." The woman shook her head in disbelief. "If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the Middle East is gearing up for war."

The man thought for a moment trying to reason what her interest would be in global matters. "Surely you don’t think that your team would be called to transport. That’s a little far for one of our helicopters." He joked.

She looked up once again, her eyes narrowed, becoming steely in color. He could feel them burn into him with her intense look. "Hey, I’m Canadian, remember?" Rene held up his hands in mock surrender. "Why does this upset you so much? I mean, I know that you were in the Navy…"

"I’m still in the Navy, Rene. All that they have to do is whistle and I’m off to their beck and call without any choice in the matter."

His face turned thoughtful as he pondered the newly acquired information. It was becoming clearer to him now. ‘I guess she is finding herself at home here.’ Dr. Chabot’s voice turned somber. "I’m sure that they won’t let it escalate to that."

"I sure hope not. I’m just concerned with this latest act of terrorist bombing. The USS Cole was made to look way too easy to attack. It’s got to be a well-organized group to be able to do that." She bit at her lip. "I’m sure that they have more things planned in the future. I just hope that it won’t include me anyway."

Rene didn’t know what to say to that. Her outlook on the global matter seemed all too ominous for his liking, and it was far from what he wanted to be concentrating on now. Not when it was two days before Christmas. The tall man only wanted to think about his twins and their first Christmas together with he and his wife. It was going to be a joyous holiday and he had the woman in front of him to thank for it.

The thin man rocked back and forth on his heels as he contemplated his next move. "Dr. Trivoli," his mind suddenly thought that this was way too formal an opening for what he was about to say, and his voice turned softer. "Garrett, I’d like to thank you for allowing me to spend Christmas with my family." He smiled at her warmly. "You don’t know what that means for me…for us. My wife was so upset about being away from the rest of the family. Now, she’s in heaven that we are going to be able to set our own family traditions."

"No thanks necessary, Rene. I’m the one who should be thanking you. After all, I’ll be able to treat patients again, and maybe even be able to do a little surgery if the need arises."

"You miss it, don’t you my friend?"

She nodded her head slightly. "We all do what we have to, Rene. I know that I’m here for a reason. I just hope that whatever the fates have planned for me, I’m able to do to the best of my ability."

Dr. Chabot smiled at the woman. He had liked her from their first meeting and marveled at the way she was changing. Nothing dramatic or earth shattering but he could still see the change. Garrett Trivoli was beginning to let that stoic mask of hers down, facing life with new emotions and feelings. It was all that he could ask for, to just know that her world was becoming more alive.

"So, what are you up to today?" Rene pointed to her clothing. "A little spin around the city, perhaps?" He made his hand imitate the spinning blades of the helicopter.

"Perhaps!" Garrett logged off the computer and stood to her full height. The long line of the dark blue jump suit with all of the glittering metal from the zippers made for a stunning image. "Enjoy your holiday, Rene, and tell your wife that I said Merry Christmas." She rounded the desk and laid her hand on his shoulder, leaning into his ear as she whispered. "And don’t forget to kiss the twins for me, too." He looked at her and nodded in agreement. "Now, I have an appointment with a nurse for a helicopter ride. If you would excuse me?"

He turned and smiled as she walked out the door. "Good luck," he called out after her. "Merry Christmas!" Rene craned his neck out the doorway to watch as she walked away. The casual wave of her hand and nod of the head was Garrett’s only form of reply.

The efficiency of the elevator and the speed of her gait brought the tall surgeon into the E.R. within minutes of leaving her office. She glanced at the watch on her wrist. It was 0905.

Garrett thought about the nurse that she was teamed with. The small woman was a dynamo of strength and vitality when it came to helping the sick and injured. ‘Danni may be small in stature, but she more than equals my size in effort and determination.’ Different scenarios ran through the surgeon’s head. Each one played out the same with Danni and Garrett matched as the team. There would be no team without the two of them working together. That was for sure.

The surgeon peered down the hall to where they were to wait for their ride. She could see Karen in a motherly hug with her arms wrapped protectively around the small blonde. ‘Okay, only positive thoughts. We’re going to do this together.’ Garrett had come to rely on Danni more than she would ever admit, even to herself. The surgeon knew that today would either broaden their experiences, or send them both back to the comfort of the E.R. No one else could do it for them. This was something that they had to do, as a team.

As the space between them lessened, each one could sense the close proximity of the other. The air felt as if it was charged with energy, as only they could know. It was a reaction that the surgeon was becoming more comfortable with as time wore on. Garrett squared her shoulders and strode straight toward the two nurses standing in front of the window.

"Anybody know what time the next helicopter comes by?" The surgeon winked at Mom. Once Danni had turned, making eye contact with Garrett, the tall woman’s lopsided smile came shinning forth. The genuine nature of the greeting was a timeless one, as though it had been given and well received a million times before. "Hey, Mom!" The surgeon never let her eyes leave those shimmering green pools.

Karen waved, returning the greeting as she finished speaking to Danni. She watched as the space dwindled down to almost nothing and soon her two pseudo-daughters where standing together in front of her. ‘I wonder if they realize the power of the attraction that they each have?’ She marveled at the quietness of their communication, but knew enough that even though not a single word was spoken, volumes were actually being transmitted. ‘Boy, are they ever going to be surprised.’

"Oh my gosh! Look at the time," the older nurse made a show of glaring at her watch. "I should have been home and in bed by now." She reached out and pulled both Garrett and Danni in for a group hug. "Now, you be careful up there." She looked from one to the other with motherly notions. "God, I feel like I’m sending you off to your first day at school." She sniffed back a tear, then dredged up a smile. "Look out for each other," Karen’s gaze lingered on Garrett until she detected the slight nod of the surgeon’s head in understanding. ‘She needs you now more than ever.’ Then she looked directly into Danni’s eyes. "I want to hear all about it when I see you on Christmas. Now I better get going before I really lose all control."

The petite nurse gave Karen a quick hug. The whispered gratuity was kept between the two of them as the sound of a helicopter in its descent prevented it from traveling any further. Mom stepped back from the embrace and took in a deep breath as she tried to compose herself before walking through the E.R. After all, she had an image to uphold.

The surgeon had moved closer to the window, letting the tender scene unfold around her. If she had to be taken into a family of any kind, she was certainly glad that it was under the leadership of this loving woman. For a brief moment, she wondered if she could ever offer anyone that sort of unconditional love as she was witnessing now. It seemed too farfetched to think about at the present time, but in her soul Garrett knew that it was something that she had always wanted.

Listening to the increasing hum of the blades outside the window, Garrett noticed the changing pallor of the woman in front of her. The blonde’s fair skin was becoming devoid of all color and she was finding it hard to swallow. Her hand reflexively came to rest over her stomach, rubbing it in a soothing manner. The surgeon could sense her fear and decided that nothing in this world was worth the torture her friend was experiencing. "Danni, if you don’t want to go through with this, it’s okay. I’ll understand."

Golden hair shimmered as Danni’s head turned in Garrett’s direction. The pleading green eyes churning like rough seas as everything from self-doubt to rage at the thought of not being allowed this challenge crossed her mind. ‘What is she doing, giving up for my sake?’ "No!" The feisty woman was putting her foot down. "If I’m not going to be part of this team, they’re going to have to tell me that to my face. It’s not going to be because I didn’t try." Her voice was full of determination.

The nurse looked out the window to see the helicopter just touching down on the pad. The air was full of small bits of debris as the blades slowed down to a stop. The butterflies in her stomach were beginning to stir as her mind began chanting a mantra of positive reassurance. ‘You can do this. It’s just a ride…a nice, safe ride. You can do this.’ "You coming with me, Doc, or are you giving up?" Her eyes shown like emeralds, glowing with a deep burning passion as she waited for a reply.

Garrett liked the fire that burned within her friend. She had felt its warmth and knew of its compassion. But now, she was about to see its mettle put to the test. She knew that Danni had to prove this to herself and no one was going to stop her. That’s when the surgeon decided to help her in any way that she could. "Okay, what do you say we go for that ride and put an end to all this talk?"

"Sounds like a plan to me, partner." Danni reached down to pick their jackets up off the chair. Her hand refused to give up the leather flight jacket to the surgeon, holding on until it was gently tugged from her grasp. The softness of the leather was such a contrast to the stoic woman who wore it. ‘Maybe one day, Garrett, I’ll get to see that soft spot in your heart.’

They both quickly donned their coats and turned to look at each other for reassurance, each one giving the other the "thumbs-up" sign.

"Okay! Let’s go kick some butt." The surgeon gave the "thumbs-up" sign through the window to the pilot as he waited for them inside the helicopter, then headed to the door.

Danni gulped hard trying not to let any of her butterflies’ escape. ‘If I’m going for a ride, we’re all going for one together.’ She replicated the signal to the pilot, and moved quickly to catch up with her team.




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