I See You

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22

pic of Lorenzo

(Past)

Caspers pov

The hospital seemed emptier without Avery.

He'd finally been discharged, and while I was grateful he could go home, it tugged at my heart. He had to contact his neighbor to pick him up, and if that was his only form of support—someone he probably barely knew—I'd rather him be here where I could give him better care.

But of course, it was expensive to waste a second at the hospital if he didn't need to.

Still, it wasn't comforting. I missed him, and it hadn't even been a day.

"You okay?"

I was startled when someone patted my back. I almost dropped the tablet in my hand, but clutched it tighter against my chest just in time.

"Oh, my bad," Lorenzo apologized, standing beside me at one of the nurse desks. "I was worried about you; is something wrong?"

"No, why would anything be wrong?" I blinked, relaxing my tense body a little.

He smirked, clearly more perceptive than I gave him credit for. "Just so happened that Avery Weppler was discharged this morning. I know you were fond of him."

"I'm just glad he left this hospital alive. That's the goal."

I could tell that he knew better, but I wouldn't entertain his suspicions.

"Right. Look, if anything is troubling you—anytime at all—I'm here for you." I looked at him in that moment, catching something in his eyes that he tried so desperately to keep hidden. He sighed. "I-I'll see you later." Then he grinned. "Don't be late to your dinner tonight."

"Oh, that. You guys don't have to throw a dinner party for me, you know that? My husband's planning to take me out this weekend anyway."

Lorenzo shook his finger at me. "Too late to back out now. Lyanna won't let you hear the end of it if you do. Alright, I gotta go take a patient up for her CT scans."

He walked off, and another person took his place.

"Dr. Larsen, there you are."

I stood taller when I realized it was my attending. I considered Dr. Naiman as my mentor, especially because he knew his specialty inside and out, and I was on his service.

"I was just looking at the charts for the new patients admitted today."

"Right. Where are your interns?" His dark eyebrows furrowed. "You'll be needing at least one of them."

"They're doing the tasks I assigned them to. Why, what can I do for you?"

"First, tell me, which one will it be?"

I considered. "Hazel is the most willing to learn. Also, the most helpful."

He nodded. "Very strong qualities for a surgeon. Page her. You will be doing a solo surgery soon, and you'll teach her."

"Yes, Dr. Naiman. What surgery is it?"

"A corpus callosotomy." He turned to leave as my eyes grew wide.

"I've never done that on my own." I followed him, and he didn't seem too fazed by the very likely possibility I could kill this person.

"Yes, and once upon a time you couldn't clip an aneurysm, or drill a hole into someone's skull. Now it's muscle memory for you. Dr. Larsen, you are the chief resident, and you are working under me. Your knowledge, your skill is a reflection of my own." He faced me. "I should mention, this patient is 7 years old. Come with me. I want you to meet her."

I froze.

"Don't fret. I will assist you." Then he disappeared, expecting me to tag along. But I was too afraid. This time, I dropped the tablet, making no attempt to catch it before it hit the ground.

**

"A toast! To our newest chief resident." Lyanna winked at me.

"Can't think of anyone more deserving," Zara said, lifting her glass of Irish cream whiskey and blowing a kiss. "Cheers."

"And I thought my husband was cheesy." My friends and I tapped our glasses together and drank. We dug into the food they'd prepared, falling into a flurry of conversations. It was only a matter of time before one of us brought up surgery as a topic of discussion. Zara was the culprit.

"Dr. Donovan wants me to switch to his service."

Lorenzo stifled a laugh. "Oh, I bet you'd like to be on his service."

"Enzo, you instigator!" Lyanna rolled her eyes playfully.

"For real! At least not in front of my boyfriend!" Zara leaned into Kamele with a smirk.

"He likes to play matchmaker," I said about Lorenzo. "Maybe that could be your job if this whole orthopedic surgeon thing doesn't work out."

Lyanna lifted a finger while squinting her pretty brown eyes. "He kinda has a point though. Dr. Donovan is quite the specimen of a man. Plus, he hasn't had a bad outcome in almost a year. Who does that?"

"Well, it's general surgery; what do you expect?"

"Excuse you! General is just as, if not more complicated than ortho!" Zara shot. "If anything, it has nothing on neuro. I don't know how you do it, Cas."

I shrugged. "No bad outcomes in a year?" I shook my head in disbelief. "That's more than I can say..."

"We're sorry about your patient. It wasn't your fault," Kamele reassured. "You weren't even one of the surgeons operating on her."

"But shouldn't I have been? Maybe I could've saved her." I stared at my food, thinking about Lysa. Her husband must be so broken. I wondered if she was all he had. I imagined his entire world turned upside down, and he hadn't the faintest clue how to move on. "You know, Dr. Naiman wants me to operate on a child."

"Oh, God, I'm gonna need more whiskey." Lorenzo grabbed the bottle from the center of the table and poured more into his glass.

"I know. If I make one single mistake, she's gone. A seven-year old baby. I might as well be operating on my daughter."

"See, now that's what's going to get her killed." Lorenzo pointed at me, his expression holding a warning. "You think everyone at that hospital is your family. You gotta learn to detach from that way of thinking."

I sighed, my shoulders falling.

Lyanna scoffed. "I swear, it's like you just love making him feel like shit, Enzo."

"It's the truth. Sorry I don't sugarcoat reality because you think he's 'fragile.' He'll be a better surgeon for it."

Wow. I was literally right here. My friend turned to me, her eyes smiling with encouragement. "Casper, you're brilliant. We're supposed to be celebrating you." She glared at Lorenzo for a second then turned back to me. "I think you can do it. Either way, it's your choice; remember that."

"Look, I wasn't trying to make you feel bad," Lorenzo spoke tenderly. "You know I'm here for you. I only said it because I think it's useful advice. Be honest with yourself. If you think your emotions will get the best of you, then I say don't operate."

"I hear you guys." I picked up my drink and downed it in only a few seconds. "Pass the bottle."

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