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Reason To Believe Part 1

written by Sammy



"Dr. Austin, your patient is about to arrive." sounded through the corridor of Chicago Hope's trauma unit. Soon after, a middle aged woman hurried out of one of the rooms.

"The helicopter is scheduled to land at the top of the building in about 5 minutes." the young woman behind the counter informed her.

"Page Dr. Kadeski, I need him in OR 2 as soon as possible."

"Today is Dr. Kadeski's free day, he's not here."

Kate sighed, "All right, then page Dr. Hemsted."

"He's not here either."

"Who the hell is here then? Am I the only damn doctor in this building?" Kate raised her hands when she realized that she was loosing her temper. "Okay, okay. Page Dr. Kronk. Tell him to join me at the roof."

Kate rushed down the corridor and backed through the doors to the staircase. She waited not long in the cold, when Dr. Billy Kronk shuffled through the doors, followed by two male nurses with a stretcher and another doctor.

"You paged me?" Billy called as they all saw the helicopter appearing at the horizon.

"I need you to assist me in surgery."

"Surgery? Kate, I am as good as out of here. I had like no time for my family the last couple of days. I even worked the weekend cuz we need every helping hand in the ER at the moment."

"You are a doctor, Billy. Don't you think I would like to spend more time with my daughter as well? But there are times when it just doesn't work the way you want it."

"Ask someone else, I am outta here!"

Billy turned and was about to leave when Kate grabbed his upper arm and held him back.

"I need you, Billy. I can't do a heart and lung transplant with every doctor, I need the best."

"Oh gosh, a heart and lung transplant, that's freaking great!" Billy ran his hair through his finger until something came to his mind. "Wait, wait, wait a moment. A heart and lung? We have only one heart ready for a transplant right now, and that was for Matt!"

"He can survive another week without a heart, but this man certainly can't. We have to set priorities, and you have to leave your personal involvement out of them."

"Great!" Billy muttered silently.

The helicopter landed, and Kate closed her coat and wrapped her arms around her when the cold wind was blown their way. The door was thrown open, and the immediately ran over. Two paramedics lifted the body of a man out of the helicopter. He was laid on the stretcher, and the young doctor immediately took over the breathing bag.

"BP is 98 to 78, pulse 100. No complications during the flight." one of the paramedics informed them.

"Let's get him downstairs!" Kate yelled to top the noise the helicopter produced. Billy was about to follow them, when one of the paramedics held him back.

"What is it?" he snapped.

"I am sorry, Dr. Kronk, but she insited on coming with us." the young woman told him, indicating a figure still sitting in the helicopter.

"Who is this?" Billy asked, catching his stethoscope which flew through the air wildly.

"His wife. She insisted."

"Great!" Billy muttered as she extended his hand to help the young woman leave the helicopter. For the first time now, he saw that she was carrying a young boy.

"I am Dr. Kronk, Mrs..." Billy stopped as he recognized that he didn't even know the name of his patient yet.

"Lance, Rita Lance." the woman replied as she held her boy closer to her chest, trying to keep him as warm as she could in the cold outside.

"All right, I will take you inside."

Billy led Rita inside of the building. As he had to get back to his patient as fast as he could, he seated her and the boy in the small waiting room.

"I have to get back to check on your husband. Before we go into surgery, Dr. Austin will come to talk to you. Meanwhile I want you to wait here, but if there's anything I can do for you, please page me."

"Thank you, Dr. Kronk." Rita replied as she placed the squriming boy that she had on her arm on the ground.

"Ugh, I can see if we have some toys for your boy."

Rita nodded silently. Billy smiled at her before he left the room. At the counter, he advised one of the nurses to get some toys and then hurried down the corridor. When he walked into the examination room, Kate was already examining their patient.

"Where have you been? Every minute is counting!" she asked, as she read the chart in front of her.

"His wife and child were in the helicopter. I first had to take care of them. They are in the waiting room now. Would you tell me about him now? You haven't told me anything else than the fact that he needs a transplant so far."

"His name is Christopher Lorenzo, age 35. He was shot twice in the chest 3 years ago. He received a liver transplant in September 1996. Somebody at Mercy in Boston must have had won his doctor's certificate in the lottery. I took them 3 bypasses and 2 1/2 years to put him on the list for a heart and lung transplant. Just by looking at this x-rays everbody could have told that he needed a new heart, and most of all lung immediately."

"So he will get Matt's heart instead?" Billy asked as he checked Chris' eye reflexes with his light.

Kate just nodded and turned to face Billy, "Where did you say his wife is? I want to talk to her before we go into surgery."

"I told her to wait in the waiting room down the corridor."

"All right. I'll have him prepared for surgery. You go and see if you can find Phillip. I want a clearance of this before we go in. I mean, you know him, Mr. Lorenzo came in from Mercy. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding."

Billy just nodded before Kate left the room.

Almost half an hour went by that Rita had to spend in the waiting room before Kate Austin finally came to talk to her.

"Mrs. Lorenzo?" she asked upon entering the small room.

Rita rose from the floor where she had been sitting, building blocks with her son that a nurse had brought in some time earlier.

"I am Dr. Austin. I will do surgery on your husband."

"How is he doing?" Rita asked.

Kate indicated for her to sit down. She did the same.

"Mrs. Lorenzo..."

"Please, it's Lance, Rita Lance." Rita interrupted her.

Kate nodded, "Ms. Lance, I will tell you the truth. Though his condition is still stable at the moment, there's a fifty/fifty chance he will survive surgery. He needs a heart, and new lungs, though the fact he's in a coma makes it a high risk transplant. But I am sure if he won't get the transplant, he won't wake up."

"You mean if he had gotten the transplant earlier, he would have been awake by now?"

"I can't tell you exactly, but I've experienced cases like this before. I did high risk surgery like this one on patients that I was told would never pull out of their coma, neither would they survive surgery. Once they were out of the OR, it took them only a couple of hours to wake up. Maybe part of the reason such patients won't wake up earlier is the fact that they won't want to wake up. Coma patients often hear what is talked around them. Your husband is hooked up to a respirator, and I think he knows what his condition is, he can feel it. He won't be able to breathe on his own with his damaged lungs once he's awake, and his heart won't be strong enough for him. Something deep inside tells him that he needs to be healed completely before he is ready to wake up." Kate paused for a moment. She knew exactly that what she had just told Rita sounded really unbelievable, but fact was that this was what she believed, and she was prooven right a lot of times.

"Ms.Lance, we both know that a lot of time was wasted. Your husband should have been placed on the transplant list right after he was shot. Not even one of the bypasses he got could change the fact that he needed a new heart, not now and not back then. Why did they let pass over two years to put him on the list?"

"They always told me he never would be accepted as a possible receiver of a heart and lung transplant in his condition, nor would he survive surgery. It was a long battle until he finally was put on the list. That's why we are here now."

"Surgery now is probably as dangerous as it would have been a year back, 2 years back. Keeping him in a coma for such a long time was a game with his life."

Rita swallowed hard as she heard this. She always thought that keeping Chris in that condition, not waking him up and not giving him a new heart and lung was wrong, but hearing it from one of the country's best specialist in heart surgery made it even worse. It made her feel guilty that she hadn't done this step earlier, getting him out of Mercy and bringing him here, to Chicago Hope.

"Ms. Lance," Kate smiled as she placed her hand on her shoulder, "I know that what I've just told you sounds devasting, but I want you to have hope. Chicago Hope only has the best doctors. We will do everything we can to save your husband's life. I have done such transplants a lot of times before, and Dr. Kronk, who is assisting me during surgery, is an expert too. You can trust us. We will do everything so that your husband will live."

"That's what I've been told at Mercy too, just trust them." Rita replied.

She turned her gaze away and watched her son playing with the blocks. He placed the last block on the tower he had built. A devilish smile broke out on the boy's face before he crashed the tower with loud cheering.

"Chris finally should see his son. I can't go on like this anymore. I... I was 5 months pregnant when Chris got shot. He only tried to protect me and our unborn baby. He needs to know what he got shot for, for saving my and most of all our son's life."

Kate looked up only to notice Billy standing in the doorway. He had crossed his arms in front of his chest, waiting for Kate.

"He's prepared and on his way to surgery." he said as he leaned against the doorframe.

"Ms. Lance, it's already late, and surgery will take at least 7 hours. I want you to go to your hotel and get some rest. I will call you as soon as we are out of surgery."

"I can't leave." Rita objected, shaking her head.

"Please. There is nothing you can do here."

Kate raised from her chair. She smiled at Rita a last time before she walked out of the waiting room, followed by Billy.

Billy had just scrubbed and was ready to back through the door into operation room to join Kate when he saw his wife entering the washing room.

"Phillip told me you are doing surgery on that guy from Mercy?" Diane asked surprised, crossing her arms in front of her.

"I am sorry, but you know transplants can't be scheduled." he snapped, his hands still raised into the air.

"All right, all right. I just thought we could finally have a night just for us - you, me and Emily.Those days are very rare lately as you know."

"I will make up for this, babydoll." Billy said as he leaned in to place a tender kiss on Diane's lips. "You promise me you will give Emily a kiss good night from me?"


"Billy, we are ready!" a voice called from inside the operation room.

"I have to get going. I love you, babydoll."

Billy backed through the door, but came back within seconds.

"Diane, I forgot something. Could you check on Ms. Lance? She's in the waiting room. She should return to the hotel. Tell her to leave a number at the desk so we can call when we're finished with her husband. There's nothing she can do here."

"Okay. Oh, and when you come home, please try not to make too much noise or you will wake Emily." Diane called after her husband, but had to consider that he had overheard the last comment because the swing doors already got closed.

Diane shook her head. She left for the dressing room to get ready for going home and to pick up her baby daughter at the nursery on the 3rd floor.

Diane crossed the floor with a drowsy baby on her arm when she remembered that Billy had told her to check on Rita. She sighed and turned to the left to take the elevator upstairs. She left Emily with one of the nurses at the desk before she walked over to the waiting room. She found Rita sitting in one the chairs, a toddler sleeping in her lap.

"Ms. Lance, I am Dr. Grad." she said as she walked into the room.

Rita shifted her son on her arm and got up.

"Did something go wrong?" she asked frightened.

"No, no, everything is all right. My husband, Dr. Kronk, is doing surgery on your husband. He told me to make sure that you'd return to your hotel. There's really nothing you can do here."

"I can't leave. I don't even know where to go. We left in such a hurry I didn't even have time to make reservations for a room, nor to pack anything for us. I just wanted to get Chris out of Mercy."

Rita sat back down in her chair, Diane sat next to her.

"I think you both could need some rest. If you want, I can check if I can find a room for you in a hotel nearby."

Rita shook her head, "No, that's not necessary. We will just stay here and wait till Chris gets out of surgery. I don't want to cause any troubles."

"You are not causing any troubles. I will see what I can do for you."

Diane left the waiting room and went back to the desk. Susan sat at the computer, bouncing Emily on her arm. The little girl obviously didn't enjoy it much. She wrinkled her noise and whined silently, but Susan didn't seem to notice it.

"Susan, could you do me a favor?" Diane asked as she scooped her daughter out of Susan's arms. "I need a hotel room for Ms. Lance and her son."

"Good luck finding one." Susan chuckled as she leaned back in the chair. "I tried to find one for my cousin two weeks ago, and all hotels were booked out. As you know there's the medical congress in town, as well as several others, and tomorrow night the Blackhawks are playing against Philadelphia Flyers. Everybody wants to know if the Blackhawks can beat the Flyers. Don't you remember your husband sold his tickets because you couldn't find a baby-sitter?"

Diane shifted Emily on her other arm as she thought. She needed a room for Rita and Zachary, at least a bed. They couldn't stay in the waiting room the whole night.

"All right, how about we give her one of the cots in the doctor's lounge?"

"Sorry, that's not gonna work. Dr. Catera swore she saw a white rat in there earlier. She made me call the exterminator. He's just dusting out the whole room. No one is to enter till tomorrow. As if there were any rats somewhere in here. This is a hospital for god's sake!"

"Oh no! She found the rat? That rat is tamed! It belongs to one of my patients. She smuggled it in here, and I first learned about it when she told me it ran away earlier this afternoon. Sheesh, now I have to tell her that her much loved Beanie was exterminated."

Diane was about to turn back to the waiting room when she realized that she still hadn't found a solution for her problem. What was she gonna do now? Both Rita and her son seemed as if they hadn't seen a bed in days. It was just a matter of time until that all would be too much for them. Emily on her arm finally began to wail loudly, too.

"How about you lend them your couch?" Susan called.

Diane turned and saw Susan standing behind the counter, a mischivious smile on her face.

"Excuse me?"

"I just thought, since..."

Diane cut Susan off right in her sentence, "Tell Billy to call me the moment he's out of surgery, all right?"

With that Diane turned and walked back to the waiting room, her wailing daughter still on her arm. Emily slowly settled down when Diane gently bounced her on her arm.

"Ms. Lance, I couldn't find a room for you, I am sorry." she said as she looked down at the toddler sleeping on one of the chairs.

"It's okay, we'll just spend the night here. I also would feel a lot better being here when Chris gets out of surgery."

"I thought about it. You really look like you could use some rest. I know it's not the same as a bed, but we have a couch in our apartment."

"That's really not necessary." Rita objected, but already saw that she didn't have much of a choice when Diane raised her hand.

"I insist. I told Billy to call me at home when they are out of surgery. There's really nothing you can do here. Think about your son. Do you really wanna let him sleep in that chair all night long?"

Rita looked at her boy and shook her head, "I hope we'll finally have a normal life when this all is over. No more sleeping in hospital rooms, just being normal people, and for my son to finally live the uncomplicated way of life other children do."

"We should put the children to sleep."

Rita got up and lifted her son from the chair. He stirred and began to rub his eyes, before he blinked at his mother.

"Mama, go home?" he asked as he yawned.

"No, we're not going home, sweetie."

"Wanna go bed, sleepy, sleepy." the boy wailed, starting to cry. Rita began to rock him, always watched by Diane.

"You can sleep soon, sweetheart. Mama will make sure of that."

The boy just nodded sleepily as his thumb made its way into his mouth. Rita looked up at Diane and nodded at her shortly, before she followed her out of the waiting room.

The front door to a certain apartment in Wrigley Field slowly cracked open. Diane backed through the door, immediately dropping her bag on the floor next to the door. She shifted Emily on her other arm as she held the door open for Rita.

"It's not big, but it's comfortable." Diane uttered nervously as she closed the door and turned the lock.

"Let me put Emily down and then I'll make the couch ready for you."

Diane disappeared in Emily's nursery. Rita looked around in the apartment. This was much bigger than any of the apartments she had lived in ever since she had left Palm Beach. First, it had been a room with a kitchenette in Savannah, Georgia, and when she'd found out that Chris was still alive, and in care in Mercy in Boston, she'd moved there. Till the baby's birth her home had been the hospital. The little boy was raised more in the hospital than anywhere else. Seeing this small, but cozy apartment made Rita remember what she missed, what her son needed - a normal life.

The dozing kid moved his head on Rita's shoulder, his thumb was making its way into his mouth. Noticing that he was getting restless, she began pacing the floor and rocking him gently. When she passed the window, she saw the snow falling outside. She stopped and looked outside. The snowflakes seemed to dance right in front of her eyes, drawing ice flowers on the window. Suddenly, she felt someone tucking at her leg. When she turned, she saw Gordie nosing at her leg.

"Gordie, off, come here!" Diane uttered sternly as she left Emily's nusery, but the dog didn't listen.

"Gordie, off!" she repeated as she grabbed the dog by his collar and pulled him away from Rita. "I am sorry. I thought he was safe in the bedroom."

She dragged the dog away into the bedroom, where she retrieved a blanket and two pillows. Then she closed the door behind her, so Gordie was trapped inside. She placed the blanket and the pillows on the couch before she moved the coffee table around.

"Let me help you." Rita offered and gently placed her son down on the chair.

Together, the two woman pulled the hide-a-bed out and made the bed ready. They had just placed the blanket over it, when a drowsy two-year old waddled over and just plopped down on the just made bed.

"Sacky go to sleep, nighty night." he mumbled, pulling the blanket up. Then he put his thumb in his mouth and drifted off to sleep. Rita and Diane just smiled.

"Sacky?" Diane chuckled.

"His name is Zachary. He still has problems pronouncing it the right way." Rita giggled as she kneeled down on the bed. "C'mon buddy, we have to take at least your shoes off."

Rita took her son's shoes off. She kissed Zachary on his head before she got up. When she turned, she saw that Diane had disappeared. A moment later, she stepped out of Emily's nursery, some jammies in her hands.

"I got these from a patient for Emily, but she's still too small to wear them. Zachary may fit into them."

"I really don't feel good causing all this trouble for you." Rita said as she took the jammies out of Diane's hand.

"It's no big deal."

Diane sat down on the arm of the couch and watched Rita dressing her son in the jammies. They were a little too small for him, but it was still better than wearing his clothes.

"Tell me," Diane suddenly began, "what happened to your husband?"

"He was shot while trying to save my life." Rita simply replied, slipping Zachary's shirt over his head. She didn't even look up at Diane.

Diane bit her lower lip as the thoughts of Alan being shot in front of her eyes came back to her mind. Every second that had happened after she'd bumped into that guy slowly played in front of her eyes. She thought she'd left that way behind her, but the simple words that Rita had said made her go through the worst time of her life again.

"Did I say something wrong?" Rita asked as she sensed there had to be a reason as to why Diane had grown very quiet.

"What? Oh, no, it wasn't anything that you said, it is just... I know how that feels, when you see someone being shot in front of your eyes, and just because he's trying to protect you."

"I've heard that a lot of times. Nobody knows how that feeling is unless they've been in a similar situation."

Rita pulled the covers up and carefully tucked her son in. She got up and followed Diane to the kitchen where Diane got them something to drink. They both were really quiet, until Diane spoke up.

"Alan was a good friend who also worked at the hospital. One night we went home by train. Every time I think of it, it's like I am watching some bad movie. We walked down the staircase, and he complaint cuz I had tried to fix him up with one of my friends." Diane chuckled shortly. "Suddenly, I bumped into this guy, I didn't even see him coming. The next thing I remember is that this guy pulled a gun and shot Alan." She paused for a moment and placed her glass down on the counter. "He died a couple of days later, and left his little one-year old daughter, Alicia. It was a real nightmare. I couldn't sleep for months. I... I was about to kill this bastard when he was brought to the hospital. You see, I know exactly how that feels."

Rita smiled weakly, "It's different in my case. My husband and I used to be cops. We were used to put our lives in danger, but we could also count that the other was always there to cover their back. I don't know if you've ever heard of bullets called cop killer. They are the worst out there."

"I've heard of them. They are the most lethal bullets, they even go through bullet proof vests, but I think you know better about that than I do."

"My husband was shot twice in the chest 3 years ago. He pushed me in the car when he already got hit and fell to the ground. He lay there, the blood on his chest and kept telling me that he loved me. We were just married for 3 weeks. He was so thrilled about our baby, and then this had to happen. He never saw his son. That's the hardest about this. He always told me what he wanted to teach his son, or how protective he would be if we had a daughter..."

Rita's voice trailed off. Her fingers around the glass began to tremble, so she kept a firmer grip on it. Diane realized immediately that she had hit a sensitive area there.

"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to." she offered.

"No, no, it's okay." Rita replied as she raised her hand. She felt like she knew Diane forever, like she could tell her everything, and she would understand. "You are the first who can really understand me, I think."

"It's haunting you in your dreams, isn't it?"

"Even after 3 years it still is. I thought if time passed by, it would go away, and that maybe Zack would help me in some way. After he was born, the nightmares didn't come back every night, but I still have them from time to time."

"I took me long until I could get back to normal." Diane stopped and walked over to the phone. "I'll order us a pizza. How does pepperoni sound?"

"Very good, my favorite."

Giggling sounded from the kitchen.

"So I was here in Chicago with a stitched wound on my forehead and Billy was still in Africa!" Diane laughed, reaching for the last slice of pizza.

"That sounds unbelievable, I mean after what you told me it sounded more like he hated Africa, even though he followed you there."

"That's what I thought, too, but it was more Dr. Jake Luft that he hated. You should have seen him when he surprised me in the hospital. He was dressed in an African cult outfit. It was to die for."

Rita just laughed as sounds emanated from the nursery. Emily was awake, and claimed her 10 o'clock bottle.

"Ahh, Miss Kronk is awake asking for her bottle. I'll be right back."

While Diane was in the nursery to get her baby daughter, Rita began to clean the counter. She dropped the empty pizza box into the garbage bin, and placed the empty glasses in the sink, when Diane returned from the nursery, bouncing Emily in her arms.

"Diane, how much do you know about Chris' operation?" Rita asked, leaning against the counter. Diane went over, and retrieved a bottle from the shelf. She prepared the formula and then put it into the heater before she answered Rita's question.

"As I told you, Billy is the one who's specialized on surgeries like that one, not me."

"But, how much do you know?"

"Not much. They will remove his heart and lung, and then transplant the new ones. I can't tell you anything about his chances if you want to know that. I don't know more than what Dr. Austin told you already."

"No, I more wanted to know what happens after surgery."

Diane retrieved the bottle from the heater and began to feed her daughter.

"He will be put on a certain medication to ensure that his body won't fight the new organs."

"I know. It was the same after he got the new liver. Dr. Austin told me that maybe one of the reasons because he didn't wake up was that he knows he's not yet completely healed, and that he would wake up after surgery."

"If she told you that, it may be true. She's the specialist. Believe me, she's done such surgery lots of times before, she's experienced. I mean, I had patients that everybody told me they were dead, and all that kept them alive were the machines, but then they just opened their eyes. That was different though, I mean it can't be compared to your husband's case."

Rita didn't satisfy this answer, she needed to hear more. No doctor had really told her the truth before, but yet she sensed that Diane would if she kept on asking.

"What do you think?"

Diane shook her head, "My opinion doesn't count. I don't have as much experience as Kate Austin does in that field."

"Please, do you think he will wake up or not?"

Diane put the bottle down and placed Emily over her should, burping her.

"There's always reason to believe." she said before she brought her daughter back to her room.

Kate pulled her mask off as she left the OR. She pulled her gloves off as well and threw them into the container. Surgery had been more complicated that she'd expected. It was way past 2am, and she needed sleep, desperately. She yawned when Billy backed through the door, immediately pulling off his mask and gloves as well.

"I thought we'd loose him when the artery broke." he uttered, throwing the gloves in the container.

"I've never seen a case like him before. I am surprised he made it this far with his damaged heart and lung. Gosh, how can people just deny him the right for this transplant because he is in a coma?"

"What do you think this operation will change for him?"

"What it will change? At least now he has a chance to pull out of the coma. He has a family, a child he has never seen. I thought now that you have a child of your own, you could understand that. If it were you who lay in there, wouldn't you want Diane to do everything for you? Wouldn't you want to see your daughter grow up?"

"Yeah, I would, but that is different."

"Billy, it's not different!" Kate snapped. "We are doctors, we have the ability to help people and we should do just that. Just because Matt Anderson is your friend, you shouldn't lose your objectivity. He is able to live without a new heart till we find a new one for him, but who said Mr. Lorenzo was? 3 years, Billy, he waited 3 years for this operation. If it was so much against your conviction, why did you go in there with me?"

"As you said, we have the ability to help. Just because it is against my conviction, it doesn't mean I deny anybody the help they need."

Billy pushed the door to the corridor open and walked out of the room.

Billy threw his bag on the empty counter and left for checking on Chris. A nurse was checking the machines he was hooked up to. Billy checked the IV.

"I want you to check on Mr. Lorenzo every 30 minutes. If there is even the slightest change in his condition, you will page me. I am at home."

The nurse just nodded as Billy left to retrieve his bag. He found Susan at the counter.

"Did Ms. Lance leave a number where I can reach her?" he asked as he swung the bag over his shoulder.

"No, she didn't, but your wife said to call her the minute you're out of surgery."

"I should call Diane?"

Without even waiting for Susan to answer him, he reached for the phone and dialed his number.

The ringing phone awoke Diane. She rolled on her side and fumbled for the receiver.

"Hello?" she mumbled.

"Diane? Is everything all right? Something wrong with Emily?" he asked breathlessly.

"No, she's all right." Diane yawned. "I brought Ms. Lance here."

"You did what?" Billy exclaimed. "I told you to get her a hotel room, not to take her home with you."

"I couldn't find a room for her. Since she and her son needed a place to stay, I took her home with me." Diane snapped.

"Did you ever think about the doctor's lounge?"

"Did you ever see the 'Do Not Enter' sign on the door?"

"All right, all right. We have a visitor. I am too tired to discuss this with you now."

"Tell me, were there any complications during surgery?"

"Yeah, but he's stable now. I will tell you more when I am home. Bye."

Billy put his key into the door to unlock it. A moment later he stepped into the apartment, and locked the door behind him. Trying not to make too much noise, he placed the bag on the ground next to the door and slowly made his way towards the bedroom. He made a short stop at the nursery and checked on Emily, who slept peacefully in her crib.

He silently closed the door behind him, and made his way over to the bedroom. Without turning on the lights as to not wake his wife, he stumbled through the dark room. He undressed, and grabbed a pair of sweats from the ground, before he carefully pulled the sheets away from his side of the bed. Much to his surprise, he found Gordie lying in there.

Billy groaned and reached for Gordie's collar to pull him out of the bed.

"C'mon, Gordie, out of there." he groaned, and woke Diane.

"Billy? What time is it?"

"Way too late, and I am just trying to get to bed, but this damn dog here claims my spot."

Diane rolled over and pushed Gordie out of the bed while Billy dragged at his collar. Finally, the dog released his spot on the bed, and waddled over to the corner of the room, where he lay down and rested.

Billy climbed into bed, and Diane snuggled close to him, her arm drapped across his chest.

"On the phone you said there were complications. What happened?"

"The artery broke, and he lost a considerable amount of blood before we could hook him up to the heart lung machine. You should have seen this. I've never seen such a damaged heart, and most of all lung before. It's a wonder he made it this far."

"I know this was going to be a problem for you since you and Matt are friends, and he didn't get the heart he needed."

"Why should this be a problem for me?"

"Cuz I know you. It is a problem for you."

"Can we talk about this tommorow? I worked 19 hours without a break, I've been on call for 48, I am tired."

He turned away from Diane and pulled the sheets up. He was tired, and yet not ready to talk about it. She was right, he and Matt Anderson were friends, and just because he didn't get the heart yet, he maybe had to die now. And to top it off, he didn't get to spend the evening with Diane and Emily, like he had planned to.

"Fine, just be quiet and rather not talk to me. Good night."

Rita was woken up by noises emanating from the kitchen. She made sure Zachary was still sleeping next to her before she got up and went to the kitchen. She found Diane there, who was making a bottle for her daughter who sat in her seat on the counter.

"Morning." Rita said as she tickled the smiling baby.

"Good morning. I hope we didn't wake you."

"No, no, you didn't. I heard your husband coming home late last night. How's Chris doing?"

"He made it through surgery, and now is in intensive care. He's in a stable condition. I'll take you to the hospital later."

"Thank you."

Emily stopped starring at Rita with her big blue eyes when her mother began to feed her. The little girl reached for the bottle and held onto it.

"I hate to ask this cuz I already caused so many trouble for you, but... could I take a shower? I think I could really use one."

"No problem. I'll make the bathroom ready for you as soon as Emily is finished."

About half an hour later, Diane was out for getting breakfast, and Rita was under the shower when Zachary woke up. Not really knowing where he was, he called for Rita.

"Mama, mama, Sacky wake!"

As nobody answered him he climbed out of what had been the bed for him that night and rubbed his eyes.

"Mama, mama!" he whined, frightened by his new surroundings.

"MAMA! SACKY WAKE!" he wailed, toddling around totally lost in the apartment.

Suddenly, Zachary had someone's attention - Gordie's. The dog rushed out of the bedroom barking  and began nosing at little Zachary. Horrified by the huge dog, Zachary cried out loud and took off as fast as his little feet were carrying him. He ran into the bedroom and sprung onto the bed, covering his head with the sheet. He began to wail even louder when he noticed that Gordie was still nosing around.

Billy, who was still dozing in the same bed, just about a foot away from Zachary, turned around, alarmed by all the noise in the bedroom and bumped into the toddler.

"AAAAAAAAAAH! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!" Zachary screamed. The tears were now streaming down his cheeks.

"Gordie, out!" Billy commanded, and showed Gordie to go out of the room. The dog nosed one last time at Zachary and then waddled out of the room.

Zachary sat in the middle of the bed, sobbing loudly and rubbing his eyes. Billy sat up. He tucked his head to his side and looked at Zachary.

"Gordie didn't want to harm you, he just wanted to see who you are." he tried to appease the boy, but apparently didn't have much luck, as Zachary kept crying for his mother.

"Hey, you don't need to cry, I am sure your mommy will come back any minute. Tell me, what is your name?"

"Sa... Sa... Sacky." Zachary sobbed.

"Hello Sacky, I am Billy."

Billy took Zachary's tiny hand and shook it. The child sobbed one last time before he began starring continously at Billy, who had to stifle a yawn.

"All right. You can't sit here all the time and watch me while I try to get my rest, my wife has the exclusive rights on that, but..."

Billy was interrupted by a loud wail that came from the nursery.

"Diane!" Billy called but didn't get a response. He groaned as he climbed out of the bed. He was about to leave the bedroom, when he heard a loud sob behind him, so he turned and walked back to the bed.

"All right, come here."

He lifted Zachary up and stood him on his little feet. He grabbed his tiny hand and wanted to walk him out of the room, but Zachary refused.

"No, no, no, bad doggy!" he wailed, so Billy picked him up and carried him to the nursery where he sat him on the changing table before he turned to the crib.

"Hey Emmy pie, what's up?" he cooed at the baby as he picked her up. "Did mommy leave you here all alone?"

Billy placed his daughter over his shoulder as he called for his wife again, "Diane!"

He heard the front door being opened, so he left the nursery, forgetting about Zachary who still sat on the changing table.

"Where the hell were you? I can't sleep when I have a dozen kids running around here." he shot at Diane, as she placed a bag on the kitchen table.

"Good morning to you, too." she replied coldly and started to empty the bag in front of her. "Besides, we have only ONE child, and not a dozen."

Billy sighed, bouncing Emily in his arms.

"Sorry. You know I need my sleep but..."

Billy was interrupted by a loud BANG emanating from the nursery, followed by loud wailing. Diane shortly looked at her husband before she hurried to the nursery. She found little Zachary huddled on the floor, crying for his mommy. He had fallen from the changing table. She lifted the boy on her arm after she'd made sure that he didn't have any injuries, not even a bruise anywhere.

"We'll see where your mama is." she appeased the young boy.

The moment Diane stepped out of the nursery, the door to the bathroom swung open, and Rita appeared in the doorway fully dressed, a towel in her hands to wipe the last wet spots on her hair dry.

"Sweetie, what happened to you?" she asked the toddler as she scooped him out of the Diane's arms.

Zachary willingly went into his mother's arms, wrapping his arms around her neck and clinging to her.

"I guess he was just a little frightened by his new surroundings." Diane tried to smile, hiding the fact that he had just fallen off the changing table. "Uhm, breakfast is ready in the kitchen, so if you wanna go grab something..."

"You've been really kind to Zack and me, I don't know how we can ever repay you for this."

"It's no big deal, really."

When Diane and Rita entered the kitchen, Billy sat at the counter, a hot steaming cup of coffee in front of him. Rita felt a little uncomfortable there when she saw that he was only dressed in a pair of boxers, and a tank top.

"Coffee? I thought you wanted to go back to bed?" Diane asked as she pulled out two cups from the cupboard.

"I thought differently." he snapped. "I'll head under the shower."

Billy got up and shifted Emily on his wife's arm. He placed a short kiss on her cheek.

"We'll talk about the changing table incident later." she whispered into Billy's ear. Thanks god this really got unnoticed by Rita.

Billy grabbed his cup from the table and shortly looked at Rita and her son before he walked off in direction of the bathroom.

"I am sorry. He can be really unbearable in the mornings - like a child."

"There's nothing you need to be sorry about." Rita stood her son on the ground. "Go get your clothes, Zack, we need to get you dressed so we can go back to daddy."

"Uh uh, bad doggy, not going." Zachary objected, shaking his head vigorously.

"Gordie is a nice dog, Zachary. C'mon, I'll introduce you."

Diane placed her daughter in her seat and held her hand out for Zachary. Zachary hesitated from a moment. He always had been shy when it came to people he didn't know.

"It's okay, Zack." Rita said when she saw how reluctant her son was.

Diane knelt down next to him.

"I know this is all new to you here, and you don't know me, but I hope you and me can become friends after all. What do you think?"

Zachary studied Diane's smiling face intensively. If his mother trusted her, she couldn't be that bad at all, so he grabbed her hand and put a weak smile on his face.

Diane led him into the living room, where Gordie lay straight across the unmade couch. Zachary turned around to head back to his mother, but when he saw her standing about 2 yards behind him and giving him a look he knew well, he better thought of it. He reluctantly peered from behind Diane's legs and stared at the dog, his eyes practically bulging out of his face.

"See, you can stroke his back if you want." Diane said as she sat down on the couch, stroking Gordie's back. "He won't bite you, c'mon."

Zachary wrinkled his nose before he reluctantly lifted his hand and began to stroke the dog's back. He began to smile, obviously really enjoying what he did there.

"See, he is a very nice dog. And now," Diane grabbed the boy's clothes from the chair, "we will get you dressed."

Zachary immediately ripped his shirt out of Diane's hands and tried to pull it over his head, but then got stuck in between. Rita just laughed as he approached them.

"Champ, you have to take your jammies off before you can take the shirt on." she chuckled as she undressed her son.

"No, you do!" Zachary claimed, reaching his arms out towards Diane.

"I should do it? Okay, so your mama can have breakfast."

"Sacky bweakfast, too!"

"You can have breakfast when you are dressed, champ."

About 45 minutes later, after they'd dropped their children off at the nursery, Diane showed Rita the way to Chris' room. A nurse was just checking his IVs and the machines, when they entered. Rita let out a low sigh. Not that she wasn't used to what she saw, but it still hurt her. She probably knew all the machines as well as all the others around - unless one machine that was hooked up to the respirator.

"What is this?" she asked Diane, and indicated the machine right next to Chris' bed.

"That's the respirator. He's not breathing oxygen at the moment, but a fluid called perflubon."

"He's breathing some fluid? But he will drown!"

"No, trust me, he won't. People drown because water has not enough oxygen the human body needs to survive. If you see it like that, you could say people suffocate. Perflubon consist of enough oxygen the lungs need. It also ensures that the air sacs won't collapse. He won't be hooked up to it for too long."

Rita turned over and gently caressed Chris' hair. Then she bent down and placed a kiss on his forehead.

"I am back, Christopher. You made it through surgery. You are all right, you can come back to Zack and me." she whispered into his ear.

"I'll leave you alone now. I have some patients to look after."

"Diane, thanks for everything you did."

Diane just smiled as she walked out of the room. Rita pulled a chair close and sat down. She reached for Chris' hand and locked it with hers. It felt damp and cold, not to say lifeless.

"Chicago Hope is a really great hospital, Chris. You only have the best doctors. Dr. Austin is the third best cardiologist in the States. I would have gotten you the two others, but can you believe that they just head off to some congress?"

A short twitch went through Chris' hand.

A short smile broke out on Rita's face, "Yeah, I know, I told you that a thousand times before, that we needed to get you only the best doctors. I should have brought you here earlier. You never saw Zack making his first steps, or saying his first words. You would have been proud of him."

The constant beeping coming from the machines was something Rita already got used to, but still it made her nervous in some way, sometimes it even almost drove her crazy.

"We need you, Chris. You need to come back to us. I love you."

It was already past lunchtime when Kate Austin walked into Chris' room. Rita sat in a chair opposite his bed, watching him. He knees were propped up under her arms, and she chewed on her finger nails. She got up when she saw Kate.

"Where is that little boy of yours?" Kate asked as she checked the IVs and the machines.

"Dr. Grad brought him to the nursery."

"I see."

Kate grabbed the chart that was hanging at the end of Chris' bed. She flipped through several pages before she went to check the respirator. She flipped pages again, and slightly shook her head.

"Is something wrong?" Rita asked as Kate hung the chart back in its place.

"No, everything is all right. I think we can take him off perflubon early tomorrow morning, maybe even tonight. He seems to respond to his medication just fine, no irregularities in his heart beating over the night, that is a very good sign. He's still affected from narcosis, but other than that he is doing fine. It's surprising."

"What do you mean?"

"He was in very bad shape when he got here, I think you know that. The fact he made it through surgery is really a miracle. You could say he made a recovery of at least 85% the last 12 hours. I really never had a patient like him before. He has a very strong will to survive."

Rita smiled as she looked at her husband's lifeless body, "That you can say. He's always been a fighter, he never quit on anything or anybody."

"That is good to hear. He's gonna need a very strong will to survive."

"Chris has made it so far. I know he's fighting, and he won't give up. That's not him. He promised me to  always be there for Zack and me, and I know that he won't break his promise."

"It will take time, but he certainly won't break it."

A smile played across Kate's face as she placed the chart back. She could hardly imagine what Rita had gone through the last couple of years, but she could see that she hadn't given up yet, that she was fighting for her husband, and that he was fighting, too - fighting to come back to what he obviously loved the most, for what he had gotten shot, his wife and his child.

Billy's stomach growled loudly on his way to the cafeteria to get himself some lunch. He picked up a sandwich and went to the nursery to pick up Emily like he often did during lunch.

"Hey, where's my Emmy pie?" he cooed when he spied his daughter sitting on the floor, playing with a ball.

Emily squealed with delight when Billy lifted her up and whirled her through the air. Then he sat her down on his arm and kissed her on her little head.

"Do you want to join an old man like your daddy for lunch, yes?"

Emily just giggled.

"I take that as a yes."

Billy made his way through the other kids playing on the floor, when he caught Zachary sitting in one corner of the room. He had his arms crossed in front of his chest, and stared down on his knees where a closed picture book was lying. He didn't seem to have any fun at all in the nursery.

"Callie, since when is Zachary sitting over there?" Billy asked, indicating the boy.

"Evere since he got here." Callie replied. "I couldn't get him to play with the others."

"You mean he's sitting there for the last few hours doing nothing else than staring at his hands?"

"Yes, that's what he's been doing. To be honest, I haven't seen a child like him before. It's almost as if he is afraid of all the other kids."

Billy rubbed the back of his head and slowly made his way over to Zachary. He knelt down next to him.

"Zachary, why don't you go over and play with all the other kids?" he asked, but all he got in reponse was a shaken head from the toddler.

"C'mon, they are all nice. It's gonna be fun!"

Again, the boy shook his head. Billy sighed. He couldn't leave Zachary back in the nursery like this.

"Do you wanna go with Emily and me?"

Zachary slowly lifted his head and looked up at Billy.

"Hum, you remember me from this morning? Do you wanna go with us?"

The boy slowly nodded his head yes. He lifted his arms into the air, showing Billy that he wanted to be picked up. Billy did so, and picked Zachary up. He left the nursery, and walked to the doctor's lounge. Upon entering, Billy immediately smelled some chemicals that apparently the exterminator had used to dust out the room.

"Ew, smells pretty bad here, huh?" he said more to himself than to the kids and went to open one of the windows. He placed Zachary down and opened it. Then he placed the bag with his sandwich on the table and sat down.

Zachary reluctantly climbed up on the chair opposite Billy and stared at him. His tiny hand reached out for the second half of the sandwich, but soon he retrieved it without taking it.

"You want the sandwich? Here."

Billy pushed the second half of the sandwich over the table towards the young boy. Meanwhile, Emily nibbled on a piece of bread her father had given her. Zachary just stared down at the sandwich and studied it, without taking it.

"I thought you were hungry."

"No cwusts, don't like 'em."

Billy sighed and rolled his eyes as he pulled back the sandwich and ripped off the crusts.

"Better now?"

Zachary's hands reached for the sandwich. He took a big bite of it, before he murmured "wank you" to Billy.

For the first time, a slight smile appeared on Billy's face. He cuddled his daughter, and gave her a kiss on his head.

"You a doc, wight?" Zachary asked after a while, chewing on a big bite of the sandwich.

"Yeah, I am a doctor."

"You make my daddy better?"

Billy raised his eyebrows, and then nodded. Zachary placed the rests of his sandwich on the table and hopped down from the chair. He hurried around the table and waggled his finger at Billy to bend down to him. Billy did so, and immediately felt a big wet kiss on his cheek.

"Wank you." the boy smiled up at him. "You make my daddy better."

Billy silently shook his head, a broad smile on his face.

Since there wasn't much to do in the ER at the moment, Billy went to the 2rd floor to shortly visit his friend Matt.

"Hey, drag that big fat ass of yours out of the bed and race me down the hallway." he chuckled as he entered the room. "It's not doing you any good you lay in bed all the time. You need some action, c'mon."

"Nah, let go off me." Matt snapped as Billy pulled at his arm to get him out of bed.

"What?" Billy asked, raising his eyebrows and shrugging his shoulders.

"You know exactly what."

"No, I don't know what."

"I thought you were my friend!"

"Yes, I am."

Matt sat up in bed, and exclaimed, "Then why did you give my heart to someone else? That's not what friends do!"

"Whoa, whoa, slow down. I didn't do anything like that."

"You did surgery on some guy from Boston, and I may die now."

Billy sighed, "Matt, I am a doctor, I had no choice. This guy had priority. Dr. Austin gave him the heart cuz he would have died. You live! You will live till we find a new one for you."

"Thank you for your loyalty, Dr. Kronk. I told Dr. Waters that I want a new doctor."

"You did what? Matt, I had no choice!"

"Mr. Anderson for you! Good day! I have nothing to say to you."

"Fine, start sulking, but it won't help you. You are alive. This guy has a wife and a 2-year old son he has never seen. He now has a chance to live too! You will get your heart, don't worry."

Billy shortly raised his hands into the air, before he left the room and hurried down the corridor towards the staircase. Once the door was closed behind him, he kicked and bashed against the wall. He had lost a friend because of some stranger that had come in from Boston on short notice.

"Hey there." Diane smiled as she entered Chris' room.

Zachary sat on Chris' bed and silently counted his father's fingers - at least it seemed as if he was doing so. Rita was leaning against the cold window, her arms crossed in front of her chest and watched her two men.

"Emily and I were just heading home, and we thought maybe you'd like to come with us. You haven't found a room yet, have you?"

Rita just shook her head.

"Look, I wouldn't feel good knowing that you're gonna spend a night in one of those chairs. I know they are worthless!"

"Zack and I are used to it, don't worry."

Both women hadn't seen that Zachary had jumped down from the bed. He now was tugging at Diane's leg.

"Hello Diane!"

He raised his arms, indicting for Diane to pick him up. Diane shifted her daughter on her other arm and bent down to pick up the little boy.

"Sacky go home play wis Emily?"

Diane raised her eyebrows and looked up at Rita. Rita sighed, and then nodded.

Diane smiled, and turned back to the boy sitting on her arm, "Yeah. you can go home with us to play with Emily if you want."

It was late when Billy returned from the hospital. He hoped that Diane had saved him parts of their dinner, he was starving. Upon entering the apartment, he heard a loud "wum, wum, wum" coming from the living room. Really not knowing what it was, he made his way over tons of toys scattered on the floor.

"Diane?" he called.

"Nursery." she answered.

All Billy wanted after such a day at work, and his argument with Matt, a friend he had lost, all he wanted was to watch one of his hockey videos. He needed to relax, and he only could do that when he either turned his concentration on his tiny daughter, who apparently was already ready for bed, or on his hockey videos.

Much to his dismay, the couch was already made for Rita and Zachary, and the young boy sat on it, dressed in his jammies, and playing with toy trucks.

"Wum, wum, wum!" he called, pushing the trucks around on the comforter.

"Freaking great!" Billy exclaimed.

He walked down the short corridor to the bedroom and slammed the door shut behind him. In the nursery, Diane raised her eyebrows. Something was going on when Billy was slamming doors, and it couldn't be any good.

"Rita, would you finish dressing Emily?" she asked and handed the jammies she had in her hands over to Rita.

Rita just nodded, and watched after Diane. Then she turned her attention to the fussy baby lying on the changing table.

"How often did I tell you shouldn't slam doors? Sometimes I think I talk to a small child."

"Can't you just leave me alone?" Billy snapped and threw his shoes through the bedroom.

"No, not when you are like this."

"FINE!" Billy yelled and jumped up from the bed. "I lost a friend today, and the last thing I need is you critizising me!"

"I wasn't..."

Diane just waved her hands in the air and stopped mid-sentence. She knew that nothing could quite help when Billy was in a bad mood like that. Since she got to know him really close that had happened only three or four times, but it still scared her in some way, cuz he tended to totally lose control.

"This damn Chris Lorenzo! First he ruins my plans with my family, then his wife practically moves in here with her son, and now I lose a friend because of him."

Billy was getting louder and louder in the bedroom.

"And you, what do you do? You even support them, I don't understand it!"

"Would you stop yelling for a moment?"

"I am NOT yelling!"

"Yes, you are! And stop blaming the Lorenzos for everything!"

"Why? It's all their fault! If they'd never come to Chicago, nothing of this would have happened. I would have gotten to spend the night with you and Emily, and Matt would have his heart."

"I don't believe you, Billy. This is not you talking there."

"I want them out of the apartment tonight."

"WHAT? Where should they go? They have no other place to stay."

"I don't care! I just want my apartment for me."

"Oh, you want your apartment for you?" Diane yelled at him. "Fine, you can have that. Then Emily and I will go and leave YOUR apartment to YOU!"

With that, Diane slammed the door behind her. Billy jerked at the loud noise. Boy, he had messed it up big time!

"Diane!" he called as he rushed out of the bedroom. "Diane, I am sorry!"

Without saying anything, Diane rushed past Rita into the nursery and scooped her almost sleeping daughter out of the crib. She grabbed the diaper bag from the ground and was about to leave the nursery, when Billy blocked her way.

"Babydoll, I am sorry. I didn't mean it."

Diane didn't say anything and pushed passed Billy towards the front door. She grabbed her coat from the wardrobe, and wrapped herself and Emily into it.

"Diane! Diane, please!" Billy pleaded, but wasn't very successfull. He couldn't keep Diane from leaving.

"This is all your fault!" Billy exclaimed and glared at Rita with a look that could have killed at that moment.

He rushed to the bedroom to retrieve his shoes and hurried after Diane. He caught up with her in front of the building, where she was buckling Emily in the car.

"Babydoll, please, I am sorry. I didn't mean it that way." Billy said.

The cold blew in his face, and he wrapped his arms around his body. Wearing only a sweater in that cold wasn't such a good idea.

"But you said it that way." Diane objected.

"Babydoll, will you please listen to me?"

"DON'T babydoll me!"

"Please, Diane, listen to me!"

Billy forced Diane to turn around. First, she looked away and crossed her arm in front of her.

"We didn't have much time for each other or for Emily the last couple of weeks. I had planned last night just for the three of us, but no, I had to be in surgery. Then I go visit my friend Matt today, and he accuses me of giving his heart to someone else. I don't know where my mind is at the moment, but I do know that I am sorry for what I said. You and Emily mean everything to me, you know that."

Diane turned her head and looked Billy right in the face.

"You can't blame other people for problems you have. I thought you learned that lesson by now."

"I know, I know, and I am sorry. It's just that I am a little selfish - I want to have at least you and Emily for my own when I come home from work, and not to find some kid's toys scattered all over the floor so that I practically break my neck."

"You have a problem. Let me help you, Billy, and don't shut me out. But I can't help you when you don't talk to me."

Billy nodded, "I should learn from my faults and don't shut you out, but I seem to do just that again and again."

Diane smiled weakly and placed a gentle kiss on her husband's shivering cheek.

"Do me a favor and talk to Rita. You haven't really talked to her since she got here. Her husband is in a coma for 3 years now, and the last thing she needs is someone acting like a total jerk. I know I don't know her that long, but she already became a good friend. Talk to her, please."

With that, Diane turned, unbuckled her fussy daughter and lifted her up. She wrapped her coat around her, and went back inside the building. Billy pushed the door of the car closed and hurried after his wife and daughter.

They entered the apartment together, and found Rita dressing her son, much to his dismay. He struggled and reached for the trucks, but Rita always took them out of his hand.

"What are you doing there?" Diane asked. She handed Emily to Billy who brought her to the nursery.

"I know when it's time for me and Zack to leave. The last thing I want is causing any problems between you and your husband."

"Please, we want you to stay here."

"No, we can't. You already did so much for us. Zack and I will just spend the night with Chris in hospital. We've done that so many times before. Tomorrow we will look for a place to stay."

"No." Billy uttered insistent as he returned. He reached for the trucks Zachary was trying to reach and handed them to him. "You should stay here."

Rita bit her lower lip like she always did when she sensed something strange was going on.

"I need to apologize for the way I treated you and the things I said. I guess a fuse just burnt out."

Diane silently went to lean against the wall after Billy had sat down in the chair. Rita sat down on the arm of the couch and placed her son's sweater in her lap.

"I, uhm... the heart your husband got was for a friend of mine. I was about to leave to spend the night with Diane and Emily when I got called in for surgery. We both didn't have much time for Emily lately, so I was really.... okay, I was really furious that I didn't get to spend the night with my daughter. I don't know what I was thinking about, and I am sorry, but you have to see that I lost a friend because of you and I practically don't even know you... which I hope will change now."

Rita remained silent and crossed her arms in front of her chest. She looked down at Zachary, who looked back up at her.

"He's a doc, mama, he makes my daddy better."

Rita just smiled, and stroked her son's hair as she spoke to Billy, "You know, this is not how I planned my life to be. Chris means everything to me, and the only thing that keeps me going at the moment is the fact that he has a real chance to live now. If it weren't for the hope, I wouldn't be here now. There was a time when not even Zachary could keep me away from losing hope. Don't understand me wrong, I really love my son, more than anything else, but the joy I have is only half the joy I could have. Every time I see him laugh, it lifts me up, but at the same moment puts me down when I think about the fact that Chris can't see him. I need Chris back, Zack and I need him. I didn't want to cause any troubles for you, you need to believe me."

"I know. If something like that was to happen to Diane or Emily, I don't know if I was strong enough to go on like that for 3 years. When you work a job like Diane and I do, your patients become just numbers after some time, you don't see their faces anymore. But Diane made me see you, your son, and suddenly your husband wasn't just only a number for me. He had a face, and that's what made it so difficult for me to deal with. Call it ignorance or whatsoever." Billy paused a moment and smiled at Zachary. "You know, I took your son with me for lunch this afternoon. He looked at me and asked me if I made his daddy better. The whole afternoon I had his face in my head, the smile when I told him I would. I tried to push it back into my mind so bad that I think I just lost control."

"Please, Rita, stay here with us." Diane uttered.

"But tomorrow I will look for a place for us to stay."

Everybody in the room smiled, when Billy's beeper went off. Billy shortly rolled his eyes and then reached for the receiver to call the hospital.

"Kronk here, you paged me?... What?... Shit. I'll be there as soon as I can!"

He slammed the receiver down and jumped up.

"Gotta go back to the hospital. There's an emergency."

He went to retrieve his coat and then kissed his wife goodbye. Before he left, he whispered something into her ear.

"It's Chris, but no word to Rita, all right?"

Diane just nodded silently and watched her husband leave the apartment.

Billy ran down the corridor and bumped into Kate when he rushed around the corner.

"What happened?" he asked breathlessly and followed her into the washing room to scrub.

"He went into cardiac arrest about 30 minutes ago. We stabilized him with Electro shocks, but I think he's suffering from a clog. We have to go in."

"What about heparin?"

"You know as well as I do that his incisions will break when we give him heparin. I don't know how much damage it would cause internally. It's better we do surgery."

Billy just nodded and turned the water on to get scrubbed.

10 minutes later they all were in surgery. Kate had made a little cut into Chris' thigh and was about to push a little probe into his artery. She looked up at the monitor as the probe made its way slowly through the artery. It went up right to his heart.

"There we have it. It's all clogged up."

Suddenly, the heart monitor began to beep faster and faster. Then the monitor began to flatline.

"DAMN!" Kate exclaimed.

She rapidly pulled the probe out and looked over to Billy, who had gotten the machine for the Electro shocks.

"180. Clear!" he called and gave Chris a shot. Nothing happened.

"200. Clear!"

Again, Chris' body jerked from the electro shocks, but nothing happened.

"Go up to 240!" Kate exclaimed.

"You're gonna damage his heart!" Billy argued.

"Are you a heart specialist or me? Go on 240!"

Billy turned to the nurse and nodded.

"240. Clear!"

Billy did the electro shocks, when Chris' incision broke. Blood trailed down his chest, and his heart still wasn't beating.

"SHIT!" Kate exclaimed.

"Call it!" the anesthesiologist called.

"We're not gonna give him up yet!" Billy uttered through gritted teeth. He reached for the scalpel and cut the incision open completely and started to massage Chris' heart with his hand.

"C'mon, don't do this to me!" he pleaded desperately. "Don't do this to Rita and Zack!"

His gaze was fixed on the monitor that still flatlined.

"Call it!" the anesthesiologist demanded again.

"Billy!" Kate exclaimed. "He's dead."


Kate grabbed Billy's hands and forced him to stop.

"It's over, Billy!"

Billy stared at her for a while and then silently nodded.



to be continued...


Standard Disclaimer: The characters of Chris Lorenzo and Rita Lee Lance belong to Stephen J. Cannell and USA Network. The characters of Drs. Billy Kronk, Diane Grad, Kate Austin and Phillip Watters belong to David E. Kelley and CBS. All characters that never appeared on Silk Stalkings or Chicago Hope before belong to me. No infringement intended.

So, in the next part you will see who won that game, Blackhawks or Flyers.... all I can say is that probably MY favorite team will win ;-) And they will kick asses, I can assure you that! LOL!

I don't know if I got all that medical stuff right, but who cares?? I don't... at least not that much ;-))


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