Brackettitis – The Cure
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, I’m just borrowing them. However if Universal would like to throw Kelly Brackett my way, I wouldn’t say no.
SUMMARY – Just what did Dixie tell Sharon about Dr Brackett? A fill-in-the-blank for ‘Dilemma.’
Thank you to my friend Judie for beta reading and a big thank you to Maria for giving me the inspiration for this story.
BRACETTITIS – The Cure.
"Sharon. You've got a very serious problem."
"That's right. You're suffering from an acute case of Brackettitis".
"Oh Miss Mcall, you're just putting me on. Aren't you?"
"No, I'm not. It could be very serious. Fortunately I've got just the cure."
"Mmm-hmm. Come on. Let's have a cup of coffee."
‘ Kel was back to his old tricks again.’ Dix thought, ‘time to nip it in the bud.’
In the break room, Dix got Sharon seated and then made them both a coffee. She joined the young nurse at the table and took a sip of the hot liquid before speaking.
"You know, Sharon, you're not the first nurse to find it daunting to work with Dr Brackett.”
“ That’s right. I'm going to tell you a little story, something that might make it easier for you to see him as just another doctor.”
"Aw, Miss McCall, I don't know if..."
"Just hear me out, okay?”
Sharon Walters nodded and took a tentative sip of her own coffee.
“Sharon, it’s like this..."
TWO YEARS EARLIER
Dixie McCall was at the end of her tether. She marched down the hospital hallway like a soldier after blood. And she was feeling just as deadly as any well-trained combat marine.
"Gail, have you seen Doctor Brackett?" She asked of the nurse coming out of treatment room two.
"No Miss McCall, I think he had a patient in four, but that was awhile ago."
Treatment room four, that’s as good a place as any to do battle, Dix thought as she shoved the door open with her shoulder.
She swore quietly under her breath.
Continuing down the hallway, she met Joe Early who had just stepped out of the elevator.
"Joe? Have you seen Kel?” Dix fell into step beside the doctor and they headed back in the direction of Treatment four.”
“Good morning to you too, Dix" Joe said, smiling.
Joe's smile slipped from his face and he raised an eyebrow. "Something wrong?"
"You bet there is. Where's Doctor Brackett?"
"Do I sense a little ruffling of feathers by our head physician?" Joe stopped walking and turned to face Dixie.
"You don't know the half of it. Have you seen him?"
“Did you try the coffee room?”
"I just came from there. I've spent the last half hour trying to console one of my student nurses and convince her not to quit."
Dix took a deep breath but it didn't extinguish the fire in her blood or soften the fury in her eyes.”
"Oh." Joe said. "Kel's been on the warpath again, has he?"
"He doesn't know what a war path is, not yet anyway. Wait till I find him, then he's really going to know what it’s like to do battle."
"Wish I could help you, Dix, but I haven't seen him." Joe resumed walking, Dix held her ground.
"If you do see him, tell him I'm looking for him,” Then she changed her mind. “No, don't, I think I want the element of surprise on my side."
Still armed with a temper that was locked and loaded, Dix headed back to the nurses’ station, picked up the phone and had Dr Kelly Brackett paged.
Five minutes passed, then ten and still no sign of Brackett. Dixie sat at the counter, fuming.
"Carol, will you man the station? I need to find Doctor Brackett." She said, sliding off her stool and heading around to the front of the counter.
"Last time I saw him he was on his way to the elevator. You might want to check the supply room."
Young Nurse Lindy Masters wandered past, her head hanging low and her face still stained with tears. Dix felt her rage rise to a new level. "I'll be back as soon as I can." She said through gritted teeth.
She couldn't imagine what the great Dr Brackett would be doing heading to the supply room. After all, isn't that what the student nurses were for? At least according to him. Another surge of fury raced through her veins.
When she reached the supply room she pushed the door open without preamble.
"Dix, stay where you are. Don't move."
Dixie McCall did a double take. And then carefully surveyed the supply room. Kelly Brackett was pushed hard up against the back wall, his face pale, sweat beads dotting his forehead and a look of terror in his eyes.
"Don't come in Dix, you'll spook it."
Dix peered inside the florescent-lit room trying to determine just exactly what 'it' was. "Kel, what's going on?" She took a step forward.
"No! Dix. Look!" He aimed his terrified gaze straight at the roof. Dixie stared up at the ceiling and then squinted a little, then a little more trying to focus on the tiny black dot on the supply room ceiling,
"What is that?" She asked
"A spider, Dix. That’s a spider. Step back, I'm telling you, if you come in you'll spook it and it will jump."
Dixie McCall, over the past few years of working with Dr Brackett, had seen him in many stressful situations. Resuscitating heart attack victims, re-attaching severed limbs, calming irate parents, wives, husbands, boyfriends, he'd pretty much handled it all without so much as a flinch or hesitation. What she was seeing now was completely foreign to her.
"Kel, it's just a little house spider. It won't hurt you."
Brackett shrunk back against the wall, Dix was sure if he could have he would have pressed himself clean through the wall and onto the other side.
“I’m coming in, Kel.”
“Please Dix, don’t. Call security. Get someone in here to exterminate it.”
Was he serious? But his pale complexion, and shaking hands told her he was in fact deadly serious. Kelly Brackett was afraid of spiders. ‘Well...what do you know about that?’ Dix thought to herself.
Understanding that Kel was a victim of his phobia and that his fear was very real to him, Dix tried to get him to calm down. “Kel, it’s okay. I think I can get it. Toss me one of those specimen bottles...and...” She looked around at the various supplies stacked neatly on the shelves...”a towel.”
A part of Kel knew that he was being childish but he couldn’t help himself. The very thought that the spider might jump on him had him trembling and cowering into the corner. “I can’t, Dix.”
“Yes you can. Just take it nice and slow. Take your time. Look...I think you can reach the towel without even moving. Can you do that for me? Just toss the towel over here.”
Dixie realised that the man who had been the target of her wrath for the past hour was actually quivering with fear. She needed to get him calmed down and out of the there...and then she would tear his head off at the shoulders for reducing another one of her student nurses to tears.
While Brackett was distracted, mentally calculating the distance between himself and the storage shelf with the neatly folded towels, Dix took another step into the supply room. And then another.
“You can do it, Kel, just reach out slowly and throw the towel over to me.”
Brackett met Dixie’s gaze, licked his lips and slowly straightened up. Leaning slightly to his left, he reached out trembling fingers and wrapped them around the edge of the towel and yanked it quickly towards him.
Dix heard him release a huge puff of air and watched him return to the sanctuary of his corner before tossing her the towel.
She caught it easily. “Kel, I’m coming in. I want you to stay where you are, is that okay?”
Brackett nodded. “Alright. But take it easy. They move sudden, you know.”
“I know. It will be all right.”
Two, three, four steps and Dixie was in. The specimen jar was on the shelf next to her and she reached out to get it. But she never got to pick it up.
“Watch out, Dix. It moved!” There was an almighty crash as Brackett dived to his left, rolled across the floor and came up hard against the shelf holding the hospital gowns. The whole thing toppled forward and then came down on top of him.
“Kel!” Dix yelled, throwing the towel to the floor and racing to his side. “Kel, are you okay?”
At first there was no movement and then the Doctor’s legs started to push against the floor while one arm reached up, feeling around for the edge of the shelving.
“Hold still, Kel, are you hurt?”
“I don’t know. I...think...I think I’m okay.” His reply was muffled but audible.
“I’m going to go and get someone to help me lift this off of you. Don’t move until we know you haven’t broken anything.”
Ignoring her, Brackett pushed up with his shoulder and forced the shelf off his body enough so as he could roll out from under it. He lay on his back, eyes closed and took a few steadying breaths.
“Kel, you’re bleeding.” Dix said, reaching for the towel she had dropped on the floor earlier and pressing it to a nasty gash on the side of his head. “Can you sit up?”
“I think so. Where’s the spider, Dix?” Kel asked, as he eased himself into a sitting position and leaned against the wall.
Dixie looked at the empty space on the ceiling where the spider had been. “It’s okay, the spider’s gone.”
In a panic, Kel scrambled to his feet, knocking Dix and the towel to the floor. “What do you mean it’s gone? Gone where?” No longer dazed, but swaying unsteadily on his feet, Kel’s eyes searched wildly around the room, studying every square inch. “You have to find it.”
Blood oozed from the cut on Brackett’s temple, it ran down the side of his face and dripped onto his lab coat. Dix wasn’t sure if his ghostly pallor was due to his fear of spiders or the cut on his head, but he looked as if he was about to collapse any second.
“Kel, you need to sit down before you fall down, or better yet, come with me and let someone check out that cut.”
“Not until you can guarantee that that spider is gone.” And then a thought seemed to occur to him. Kel desperately stripped off his lab coat and threw it across the room, and then he started patting himself down, searching for the little black monster on his clothing.
“There it is.” Dix said, pointing to the floor near the supply room door.
“Catch it Dix, don’t let it get away.”
Dixie gave the Head of Emergency a sideways glance before picking up a specimen jar and scooping the tiny terror inside. “Got him.” She declared and held the specimen jar up to show Kel.
The last of Brackett’s colour drained from his face and his legs crumbled beneath him. Dr Kelly Brackett M.D. F.A.C.S dropped to the floor in a dead faint. Dix rushed to his side to check on his breathing. After reassuring herself that he was relatively okay, she went to get help.
It was less than a minute later that Dix had managed to round up a gurney and two orderlies to transport Kel to treatment room three. Joe Early was waiting for them when she arrived with her patient.
“I see you caught up with him, Dix. Don’t you think you might have overreacted?” Joe nodded his head towards Kel.
Dixie’s look told Joe he ought to keep his mouth shut.
The orderlies moved Brackett to a treatment table and left with the gurney in tow.
“What happened?” Joe asked, moving to Kel’s head to examine the cut.
“He had an altercation with a supply shelf upstairs. Tripped and fell, brought the whole thing down on top of himself. As far as I know he didn’t lose consciousness, but when he got up complained of dizziness and passed out.”
Joe raised an eyebrow and gave her a quizzical look.
Dix held his gaze, never faltering.
“Okay.” Joe felt around Kel’s head, checked his pupils and then said, “It doesn’t look too bad. I’ll get an Xray of his skull just to make sure and stitch up this cut.”
“Thanks, Joe.” Dix offered him an appreciative smile.
An hour later, Kel’s cut stitched and bandaged, Dix found him in treatment three, shrugging in to a clean lab coat.
“Are you sure you’re okay to go back to work” She asked.
“I’m all right, Dix.”
Was that a sheepish tone to his voice that Dixie detected? She studied him a little harder, but he didn’t meet her gaze.
“Um, Dix? About what happened in the supply room...?”
“You mean when you tripped and fell reaching up to get something off the top shelf?”
Brackett looked sharply at her, a small frown of confusion pushing his eyebrows up into his hairline.
“That’s what I recall happened, Dr Brackett.”
“Um...yeah...thanks.” There was a hint of a smile.
“Oh and Kel...next time you’re chewing out one of my student nurses...you might want to remember that Karma has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.”
“What...what are you talking about?”
“Lindy Masters. The student nurse you chewed out for being too slow to hand you an instrument this morning.”
“Oh. Nurse Masters. Yeah, I remember.”
“And what happened in the supply room earlier? I remember you tripping...I hope nothing else comes to mind.” She gave him a meaningful look.
He looked like he wanted to say more but instead, nodded quietly.
“Dr Brackett is really afraid of spiders?” Sharon put down her cup, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Mm-hmm.” Dix said, blowing into her coffee.
“But he always seems so in control.”
“Everyone has their Achilles heel, Sharon. Even Dr Brackett.”
Sharon huffed quietly, still unable to believe what she’d heard. “Thanks Miss McCall. I better go and see how Mr. Cranks is doing,” She stood up and then hesitated, turning back to Dix she said, “I think I’m going to be okay, now.”
“Good girl. Remember...whenever you start to feel anxious around him, just think; spiders.”
Sharon nodded and smiled, leaving Dix to finish her coffee.
A few minutes passed and then Kelly Brackett walked in. “Was that Nurse Walters I saw coming out of the coffee room?”
Dix nodded, “uh-huh.” And smiled quietly over the rim of her coffee cup.
“What were you two talking about, Dix? You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.” Kel reached for the pot and poured himself a coffee.
“Oh, nothing. Just girl-talk.”
“Girl-talk, eh?” He added cream and sugar to his coffee and then swung his leg over a chair and sat at the table with Dixie.
“Yeah.” Dix put her coffee cup down. “You know, Kel? I’ve been thinking. Would you like to catch a movie sometime?”
Brackett quirked an eyebrow ,“Are you asking me out on a date, Miss McCall?” .
“Yeah...maybe. I heard Spiderman’s playing at the Metro.”