Fic: A Beautiful Mess, 17/?
Summary: Luke is a pediatrician! He is officially Dr. Luke Snyder.
Spoilers: References to Luke's past from canon and that's about it.
Disclaimer: Wish they were mine but they're not.
Note: This was inspired by this entry in lure_prompts by the brill _alicesprings. Feedback, concrit, etc. welcome! ♥
Thank you so much for the quick look through, _alicesprings!
Reid remembers how it felt to lose his very first patient and Luke's chosen field isn't one that has a high statistical number of fatalities. A kid doesn't normally go get a check-up and die the following day. Rarely. But, this is the first patient Luke's seen from beginning to symptoms to diagnosis.
The reality of it hits Luke hard but it's a face that he only shows at home. At the hospital, he's professional, and he keeps it together. Reid's more than impressed by Luke's demeanor. Well, he's impressed and concerned, not wanting Luke to spontaneously combust because of everything that he's holding in.
Reid's been watching him carefully until one day at lunch Luke says to him over his orange jello cup, "I'm all right. You don't have to watch me like a hawk."
"Maybe I just like looking at you. You think about that?"
"I know what you look like when you like looking at me and those aren't the looks that you're giving me. Frankly, it's a little unnerving so can you just focus your attention elsewhere?" Reid won't but Luke doesn't really need to know that. "What's going on with Matt? I see that they gave him his own room."
That statement surprises Reid. They haven't really talked about the kid much. After Luke's reaction, Reid thought it was best just to keep the information to a minimum if Luke asks but he hasn't asked. Luke even left it to him to contact the other doctors who had been involved with his case despite what he'd said to him before he found out about Reid's conclusive tests.
"You didn't ask when you were in there?"
"Well, I just saw on the list in our department. I didn't go in there," Luke's poking at the jello now, staring at it like it's the most fascinating thing in the world.
"And why haven't you?"
"I'm just not ready, Reid. Can we talk about something else?"
"It just doesn't seem like you. I thought you'd be running over there or at the very least asking me about the team that I've regrouped. Fortunately, everyone's available and they'll be here soon. I'm working my ass off so that that --"
"And what part of me asking you to talk about something else did you not understand?" Luke stands up abruptly, leaving his food behind, and walking out of Reid's office.
Reid sighs and reaches for Luke's untouched sandwich. He does briefly consider consuming it himself but instead, he asks Jaymie to deliver it to Luke's office. No need to neglect his health because he's having ... Reid doesn't know what to call this. All he knows is that Luke is dealing with this potential loss in his way.
It isn't a loss yet and despite Reid's original grim conclusion, he believes that there's a modicum of hope. It's going to be tough but if all the factors work in their favor then the kid could come out of this. It's something that he didn't say to Luke. False hope isn't what Luke needs to hear right now. But, as long as everything aligns, and the kid gets the best treatment, he might make it through this.
It's a long shot but it's a shot.
Reid quickly finishes the rest of his lunch and then gets to work.
"It's not impossible to remove but are you willing to take this risk, Reid?" Dr. Huang is looking at the new x-rays again and rubbing his temple. "It's dangerously close to some key areas and he's a child. It would affect his developmental stages."
"Isn't that better than him not going through those stages at all? Isn't life the better alternative than death?" Reid argues.
"Talk about these options with Matthew and his mother, Dr. Oliver. Ultimately, it's their decision and we can't push them one way or the other."
"I hate that ridiculous rule," Reid mutters as he scratches the x-rays away from his colleague's hands.
"It's more than a rule, Dr. Oliver. It's an oath and we've taken it."
"Don't need the reminder, Pete," he says as he pulls up another chart with some additional blood work that he's ordered.
Dr. Huang has been in Oakdale for less than a day when Reid brings him straight to Memorial to get to work, wanting him to look over every detail in Matthew's file including all the new tests and x-rays that he's ordered in the past couple of days.
"Reid, you've dealt with cases like this before. But, you've been going above and beyond. I know that you're a dedicated doctor and I've always admired you for that but why this kid?"
Reid likes Dr. Huang. He never socializes, he's completely professional, and he's not an idiot. In fact, he's one of the smartest men that he knows and it takes a lot for him to admit that there's someone else whose genius surpasses his own. He's incredible at what he does and he gives a crap about his patients. That's rare in a human being and it's rare to find a doctor that cares more about people than a paycheck. Luke's just like him. Unsurprisingly, he and Luke got along very well the last time Dr. Huang had been in town to perform Matt's initial surgery.
Luke comes to mind when he asks the question but it's about more than doing Luke a favor. Sure, he's taken on the case because of Luke. Reid doesn't want to disappoint him. Ultimately, this is about Matthew. Reid doesn't like to fail and if gathering some of the best pediatric minds in the country is going to save one child then that's what he's going to do.
He has a feeling that Huang knows all of this but maybe he's wondering why this case deserves his lack of snark.
"I'm not gonna fail him," Reid wonders if he's talking about Luke or Matthew. "He deserves the best care regardless of who he is. If he invented some indestructible form of metal or scored a 1600 on his SATs --"
"I think it's 2,400 now."
"-- everyone deserves to be treated equally. Kid deserves a chance as much as anyone else."
"And we'll make sure that he gets that chance," Dr. Huang says to reassure him.
"You think he has a shot?" Luke comes into the doctor's lounge, still in his lab coat. It's a little past 7 o'clock and this is the last place that he expected Luke to turn up.
"Luke," Reid tries to ask him why he's here and why he isn't at home but Luke interrupts him.
"Was there something that you saw on the x-rays that hadn't been there before you told me about the tests?" Luke looks at Reid and walks over to the table in the middle of the room, taking a seat to join the conversation.
Reid glances over at Pete and then back at Luke. "Pete thinks that the tumor can be removed," Luke hides nothing, a hopeful smile appearing on his face. "But, it's pressing close to areas that make the operation difficult and complicated. It's a risk to do but we're going to present them to Matt and his mother, giving them their options."
"This is a good sign though, right? Before you hadn't thought that it was operable and now it is."
"It might be," Reid doesn't want him to get his hopes up and now they're shooting to the sky. "Luke, there are a lot of complications that can arise from this type of procedure. We're hopeful but everything depends on how he's going to come out of this after the surgery. That's not something that we can determine right now."
Luke looks between them both and sits up a little straight in his chair. "If you both don't mind, I'd like to be there while you're discussing this with them." That's not something that Reid wants. Luke is friends with Mrs. Hilts and she'll see that spark in his eyes, the tone of his voice, and she'll trust and believe in him. Reid doesn't want that responsibility on Luke's shoulders. He's already taking this pretty hard.
"I don't think that that's a good idea," Reid has to be honest with him.
"Why not?" Luke already looks upset but this time, his anger is directed toward Reid.
"I don't want her looking into your eyes, seeing that optimism there that you just seem to carry around with you everywhere, and think that everything's going to be fine. Because, worst case scenario, what if everything doesn't turn out the way that you want it to? You have to be objective about this."
"I am being objective about this and I am still his primary physician. I have been treating that boy through his symptoms and I think that I have a right as his doctor to be there when you're discussing whether or not he might live with the surgery or die without it."
"Luke, you're too close to this. You're too close to them. You react to them emotionally rather than logically and that isn't gonna help when we're talking to them. They're going to keep looking at you, reacting to your reactions."
"Reid, what is this about? Since when do you think that I'm completely incompetent and incapable of being logical and stepping back to see this patient with an impartial --"
"Because you're not impartial!" Reid looks at him, completely blown away by Luke's statements.
Peter Huang pushes his chair back and reaches for his jacket. "This is between the two of you. Luke, Reid, I'll be in the guest office when you need me." He gathers the files and then leaves the two of them alone in the room. No one else is in there except for the two of them.
"Reid, you can't shut me out of this."
"I'm not shutting you out. You're shutting yourself out."
Luke makes an exasperated sound, tilting his head back, and sighing heavily before leaning on the table. "I can be objective, Reid. Just because I connect with my patients doesn't mean that I can't detach myself when the situation calls for it."
"When has the situation ever called for it? You told me yourself that you've never had to deal with a case like Matt's before. Not only is this the first time you are dealing with it, you're close to the family." Reid leans forward on the table and folds his hands together, averting his gaze to the table. "You don't know what it's like to deliver the worst news that a parent can ever hear. They start to cry, they scream, they wail, they want to take it out on you for telling them." Reid hates talking about this. He never talks about this.
"Reid," Luke's tone changes and Reid knows that he's no longer thinking of Matt. He's thinking about what Reid goes through.
Leaning down, Reid picks up his briefcase, and opens one of the pockets inside. He takes out the several photographs that he keeps and shows them to Luke. Reid's never told him about them. It's never come up until now.
"What are these?" he asks as he slowly flips through each one of them.
"Those are the patients that I've lost." Luke stops flipping and meets his gaze before he looks back down. "Not all of them. Just the ones that have ... that have made me react." That's the best way to put it. "If only I'd done this or if only I'd done that or seen a tumor earlier then they would be alive. He would be playing college football and she would be graduating from culinary school." Luke pauses on a child that's around Matt's age and Reid remembers that case well. "He would be going into his first year of high school."
"I really don't know how you do it," Luke speaks quietly as he continues to look at the photographs.
"They're reminders of what I can do to be a better doctor. I've learned from every one of them. I use them to fuel me, to tick me off so that I can kick ass for the next surgery." That's for another conversation though. He has a point that he's trying to get to. "Point is, I was the one to deliver that kind of news to their families. I've been called every name in the book. I've seen people with hope in their eyes crumble right in front of me when I tell them that their daughter didn't make it or their son. Luke, you can either be there for them as their doctor or you can be there for them as their friend. You can't expect to be both."
Reid's developed the tough skin that Luke doesn't have. He doesn't have to have it. Reid feels like he can carry this one for the both of them.
After staying silent for a couple of minutes, Luke returns the photographs, and Reid puts them away in his briefcase. "Okay," Luke nods his head. "You can handle this. I know you can. I just feel like, I just wish that there were something that I could do." There are worry lines forming on his face and his fingers are tapping silently but repeatedly on the table.
"What is it?"
"Nothing," Luke runs his fingers through his hair and moves to stand up.
Reid follows his movements, also standing, and facing him. He doesn't push. If Luke doesn't want to talk about whatever it is that he's thinking about then he isn't going to force him. Reid doesn't really know if that's the right move or not but he trusts that Luke will come to him if he wants to talk about something.
"Are you coming home soon?"
"I just have to finish some things up here. Maybe in an hour."
"I'll see you there." Luke leans in for a kiss that Reid returns and watches as Luke leaves the room.
There's definitely something that Luke isn't telling him and Reid has absolutely no clue what it can be. It's been almost three weeks since Luke's hospitalization and Reid remains worried about him. Not only has Luke been worrying about Matthew but Reid's been hearing the messages on their answering machine.
Parents going through another spat.
Sister might be on drugs, again.
Brother getting into fights at school.
Reid's not an idiot and he knows exactly how this is affecting Luke. He tosses and turns in the middle of the night. He's not eating as much as he should. He's going running in the mornings and runs on their treadmill at home. At this rate, another hospitalization is right around the corner.
Reid takes the remaining files on the table, putting them into his briefcase, and goes to find Dr. Huang. Matt has his attention tonight and he'll have to worry about Luke later.