~ Alone Again ... Naturally ~

No matter how many times she went over it in her mind, the results remained the same. Her father's emergency surgery had been perfect, yet the worst had occurred. Roger Winters was in a deep coma and being kept alive only by the bank of machines along the wall. It was the very scenario he'd never wanted to be a part of. And to make matters worse, her father's insurance company was threatening to move him back to County Hospital the very second he was stable enough to be transported.

Lainey was lightheaded with grief and worry. Just because she was a psychiatrist didn't mean that she wasn't subject to the same fears as everyone else. At the moment, she was a young woman in her twenties facing the prospect that - apart from a few relatives she really didn't know - she would soon be alone in the world.

Her father always preferred the isolation. As long as Lainey could remember, Roger Winters kept his small family separate from both her mother's relatives and his own. For a while Russell Winters, her father's twin brother, had been the single exception to the rule.

Her Uncle Russell worked for the United Nations as a translator and spent almost all major holidays with their family. When Russell died at age forty-three of a massive heart attack, her father grew more introspective than before. Lainey's contact with other relatives abruptly ceased. At family weddings and funerals, she was considered a familiar stranger. Eventually her relationships, already tenuous, completely disappeared.

Lainey sighed and rolled her shoulders to ease the knots of tension that had developed during her bedside vigil. A five-minute walk through the corridor of General would be a welcome break, the young psychiatrist reminded herself. "I'm going to go take a walk, Daddy. I need to get some fresh air." Lainey squeezed her father's hand. "I wish you could come with me."

Lainey dashed away her tears. She moved blindly down the corridor, unaware of anything but the weight of grief and responsibility pressing down on her. She reached the end of the hallway and froze. Lainey knew that her non-stop bedside vigil wasn't healthy; she hadn't taken a moment to eat or sleep. Still, she turned around and headed back to the room where her father lay comatose and unresponsive.

Her heart thudded painfully in her chest when she spotted her patient Cody Paul standing just outside her father's door. A single look at the man's face confirmed Lainey's fears. She rushed into the room and pulled up short. The bank of monitors which once sounded out the artificial rhythm of Roger Winters' breathing were now as silent and lifeless as the man himself.

"His EKG is not registering at the desk!" Two young nurses ran into the room and began frantically turning the dials of the various monitors. "Get a crash cart," one barked at the other.

"D-don't," Lainey reached out and grabbed the young nurse's arm before she could leave the room. "It's DNR," she whispered. "Let him go."

*scene between Lainey/Cody Paul & Lainey/Nurses are taken from GH:Nightshift episode #11 *