A/N: I don't own anything except season 10 of ER on DVD...probably a mistake. It wrote itself, I swear, so if it's awful...blame my subconscious. Just a note, this is in no way meant to represent the actual actions of the american, or any other, Child Protective/Social Services. I hope you enjoy it, please read and review! love xx Shezzi
Dawn stood, shivering slightly in her thin Californian coat, her arm gripped tightly by the woman beside her. Her hair was saturated from the run from the car, but she kept her head down, the water running down her face and mingling with her silent tears.
How could they not have taken care of it? Why wasn’t it done? Was it because the monks hadn’t expected this and had therefore not bothered to write Dawn into her mother’s and sister’s wills? Had they simply overlooked it? Whatever had happened, Dawn had, instead of staying in Sunnydale, been shipped off to someone she hadn’t seen properly in years.
She stood beside the social worker as the woman tapped her foot impatiently. “When will we be able to see him?” she demanded of the scrub nurse, the same question she had asked five minutes ago.
“He’s in surgery, it may be a while,” the nurse replied, just as she had the last three times.
“You didn’t make an appointment, did you?” asked Dawn, the first words she had spoken since waking up.
The social worker ignored the girl, glancing down at her watch. She had to be on a plane in half an hour or pay her own way back to California, which she had no intention of doing. She glanced around, then turned back to the nurse. “I have to leave, I have to catch a flight back to California, could you keep an eye on Dawn here until he’s available?” Without waiting for a response, she turned and left, leaving Dawn standing alone in front of the flabbergasted scrubs nurse.
Deciding to make the best out of the situation, the nurse circled the desk and stood in front of the girl, sizing her up. “Hi, I’m Shirley,” she introduced herself. “Why don’t you come in here and have a seat, dry off. You’ll feel a lot better.” She wrapped an arm around the young teen’s shoulders and drew her out of the hallway and into the surgeon’s lounge, where she wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and went to her own locker to get the blow dryer she kept for early morning shifts.
She sat beside the girl and started drying her hair, trying to figure out what to say. The social worker had been decidedly sparse on the details, and until the man in question got out of surgery she was unlikely to get many.
“Where are you from, Dawn?” she asked gently as she ran her fingers through the girl’s hair, separating the strands.
“S…Sunnydale, California,” Dawn replied quietly, staring blankly at a spot on the far wall. She startled suddenly when Shirley touched her shoulder, then gasped in pain, one hand going to her stomach.
“Dawn? Are you hurt?” asked Shirley, immediately thinking of various situations that could bring a social worker into a child’s life.
“It’s nothing,” Dawn tried to blow it off, but Shirley wasn’t having any of it.
“Show me and I’ll be the judge of whether it’s nothing,” the nurse told her firmly. She pressed the girl gently back against the couch and pulled aside her shirt to display her abdomen, and the reddened, slightly swollen wounds held together with steri-strips.
“This is not nothing,” she told the girl firmly. “What happened?”
Dawn bit her lip, not wanting to talk about it, and shook her head.
“Well, these need proper treatment, stitches and antibiotics,” Shirley told her. “I’ll see who I can get to take care of them for you.” She stood and left the lounge, leaving Dawn on the couch wrapped in a blanket.
Too tired to consider doing anything else, Dawn dropped her head onto the arm of the chair, a tear oozing out of the corner of her eye as she remembered the funeral held only yesterday, the one the man she had been brought to hadn’t bothered turning up for, just like he hadn’t bothered turning up for her mother’s.
Her eyes slowly slid closed as her exhausted body surrendered to the exhaustion that was pulling her down.
Elizabeth Corday entered the surgeons’ lounge and poured herself a cup of coffee, sighing slightly with relief at the first sip. Turning back into the room, she blinked with surprise on seeing a young girl, she would guess fifteen at the most, curled up asleep on the couch.
Tilting her head to one side, trying to see the girl’s face, she started towards her when the door swung open again. Shirley entered, a slightly concerned, harassed look upon her face. “Oh, Doctor Corday, thank goodness,” she said softly. “I need someone to have a look at Dawn, preferably before her father gets here,” she explained, setting a sterile dressing tray and suture kit down on a small table. “She was pretty much dumped here by social services to wait,” she explained further as she went to the girl and shook her shoulder gently, rousing her out of her light slumber.
Dawn woke groggily, eyes sticking together. She could tell she had only been asleep for a few minutes, and her body protested her waking.
“Dawn,” Shirley drew the girl’s attention. “This is Doctor Elizabeth Corday, she’s going to have a look at you,” she told her. She helped the girl to sit up, leaning against the back of the couch, uncovering her belly as she went.
Elizabeth’s eyes widened as she took in the infected wounds on the girl’s stomach, and she quickly stepped forward, pulling on a pair of gloves as Shirley handed them to her. “How did these happen?” she asked gently, catching the girl’s eyes.
Dawn swallowed, but she knew that eventually she was going to be forced to tell at least some of the story, and if she got what she wanted to say straight now, it would help later. “A guy…kidnapped me, and tied me up. He…he wanted to hurt me, I don't know, I think maybe he wanted to kill me,” she told them, eyes starting to water as she remembered Doc’s insane eyes as he flicked the knife at her belly. “My sister found me before it got that far…she died, saving me…” at this point Dawn’s voice broke, as she remembered Buffy’s broken body spreadeagled on the ground, and she buried her face in her hands and wept.
Shirley and Elizabeth exchanged shocked glances, even as Elizabeth wrapped a comforting arm around the girl’s shaking shoulders and muttered soothing nonsense in her ear. She calmed slowly, the occasional hiccupping sob catching in her throat.
“Let’s take care of these,” Elizabeth said, indicating the wounds carefully. Dawn nodded slowly, lying back against the couch, eyes stinging from the tears.
“Are you allergic to lidocaine?” Elizabeth asked quickly as she picked up a vial of the local anesthetic.
“No,” replied Dawn, shaking her head.
“Nope,” replied Dawn.
Shirley excused herself to get back to her work, sure that she was leaving Dawn in capable hands.
“So, Dawn, where’s your mother?” asked Elizabeth as she worked, her eyes flicking to Dawn’s face, immediately realizing the question had been a mistake.
“She died,” Dawn replied, biting her lip. She didn’t elaborate, and Elizabeth didn’t push.
She was just finishing up on the girl when the lounge door opened again. She glanced over her shoulder to see Robert coming in. He hadn’t noticed them yet, so she turned her attention back to her patient, waiting for his inevitable outburst.
Doctor Robert Romano was not having a good day. The coffee in his office was cold, the weather was abysmal and he had just spent six hours operating on a man who had the bad manners to die on the table. He entered the surgeon’s lounge, intent on grabbing a hot cup of the life sustaining brew. Sipping it, he turned back into the room proper, and noticed Elizabeth, with several dressing packs and other discarded medical supplies spread around her, treating someone on the sofa.
“Elizabeth? Practicing medicine in the lounge now, are we?”
Elizabeth felt the girl stiffen under her hands, then try and sink lower on the seat. She twisted around slightly to face Robert, unintentionally opening his view of her patient.
“Yes, Robert, due to the circumstances, I am treating someone in our lounge. Mostly because she was waiting for her father,” Elizabeth explained, not realizing that she no longer had even one iota of the man’s attention.
“Dawn…Maree…Romano…” he breathed, eyes wide. “What are you doing here? What happened?” he demanded, all but shoving Elizabeth out of the way as he went down on his knees by the daughter he’d hardly seen in four years.
“It’s Summers,” Dawn muttered angrily, not meeting her father’s eyes.
“It’s Romano, it was never legally changed,” he replied, firmly. “Why are you here, Dawnie?”
“Don’t call me that! You have no…right to call me that!” she cried, eyes overflowing once more. “Where were you? Mom died, you didn’t come, Buffy died, you didn’t come…where were you?”
Robert paled at this news. His older daughter…his ex-wife… “Dawn, I didn’t know, I swear I didn’t know,” he told her, taking her hand in his.
“How could you not?” she demanded. “Giles sent letters; didn’t you get them?”
“Obviously not,” replied Robert, his own eyes tearing slightly. He may not have been the best husband or father in the world, but he had loved his family. He reached out now and gathered his remaining daughter into his arms, holding her tightly as she sobbed, screamed and hit him.
“WHY…DIDN’T…YOU…COME?” she wailed, punching his shoulder over and over again. He offered no resistance or defense, simply rocked her, crooning softly. Slowly, she collapsed against him, her tears saturating his scrubs. He held her until she fell asleep, then laid her down on the couch. Taking the dressing that Elizabeth hadn’t gotten around to applying yet, he took a careful look at his daughter’s wounds before covering them with a tenderness Elizabeth had only ever seen him display for his dog.
“Robert? Is everything all right?” she asked gently.
“Clearly everything is not all right!” he snapped angrily. “I just found out my ex-wife and oldest child are dead, and my younger child wounded and pretty much dumped here, and she hates me, how could that possibly be all right?”
Elizabeth bit her lip, unsure of how to answer. Ignoring her, Robert stood, put the strap of Dawn’s bag over his shoulder and, leaning down, lifted the thin teen off the couch.
“I’m going home. You cover the rest of my shift, or find someone else to do it,” he ordered, even as he left the room. He completely ignored the stares as he made his way down the corridor, his daughter cradled against his chest.
“Doctor Romano,” called Shirley, appearing at his side a moment later with a wheelchair. “This might be easier,” she told him. He nodded his thanks, carefully lowering Dawn into the chair before pushing her towards the lifts.
He had her tucked into bed, one of the dogs sleeping beside her the way they did when she was younger, when they still lived under the same roof.
Making his way to the kitchen, he opened a high cabinet and pulled out a bottle of scotch and a single glass. Just as he was about to pour, there was a knock at the door. He stomped over to answer it, stepping back in surprise as Elizabeth entered, a bottle of single malt whiskey, a bag of take-out food and a small prescription bag almost falling out of her hands.
“You shouldn’t be drinking alone, where’s the fun in that?” she said as she let herself in. “She still sleeping?” she asked, and Robert nodded. “Good,” replied Elizabeth, setting the Chinese out on the small table in the lounge. “Grab some glasses, would you?”
Rolling his eyes at the casual way his employee invaded his home, he brought a second tumbler from the kitchen. The two of them sat together in companionable silence, sipping the single malt and eating from cardboard boxes.
Their peaceful scene was shattered by a scream from the bedroom. Robert was on his feet and moving before fully processing the sound, Elizabeth barely a step behind him. He burst through the door to find Dawn thrashing on the bed, pained, terrified screams ripping from her throat as she dreamed.
He was beside her in an instant, hands on her shoulders as he called her name, trying to wake her. She woke with a start, taking a great, gasping breath as she stared around, confused.
“It’s alright, I’ve got you,” he whispered, stroking her hair gently. With a muffled sob, Dawn threw her arms around his neck, clinging to him. He held her quietly, and she eventually drew back. “You want Chinese?” he offered, raising an eyebrow.
She gave a soft snort, and pushed the covers back. She stood stiffly, one hand hovering protectively over her belly. Robert noticed the abrasions around her wrists, clearly caused by rope, and frowned thoughtfully.
He left it for now; food would do her the world of good, and hopefully she would be able to sleep afterward. There was no rush, they had plenty of time.