His Own Personal Hell
CATEGORY: RR angst
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Romano, if I did, he would still be alive, with both arms, not suffering, trapped under a helicopter in the worst plot device in the world. He, along with the rest of ER belongs to NBC and Michael Crichton, and whatever other powers that be.
SUMMARY: Romano reflects on his hell, post Freefall
She was beautiful. She always had been the most beautiful thing in his life, she had been all he had ever had, she had been his only thread keeping him somewhat human. He needed to be human again, he needed to feel again, and he hadn't felt in far to long. But yet, at the same time, he didn't' want to feel, he was afraid that if he felt again, that it would bring back all those horrible feelings that he had, that it would bring back the feeling of pain that he had.
Every time he thought of her, he felt empty. There was no other way to describe the way he felt. He just felt empty. Like a part of him was missing. And he knew what it was. Just like that movie that he had seen the previews for. He knew that on that day he found himself weighing twenty one grams less than how he had before. He knew what part of him was missing, he was missing his soul, he was missing his heart. She had taken those from him.
She had left him a cold bitter man. She had left him an old man, a man older than his years. He shouldn't look as old, as haggard as he did, but yet he did. his hair was gone, his face was wrinkled. He should look like he used to. He should look like Carter, not like on the geriatric patients that came in. he missed how he looked, he missed being young again. But he would give any of that up in an instant only to have her back. He'd give his life for her.
And he had. He had given his life in her memory. He had stopped living the day she had done the same. Rather he went through the motions, he ate, he drank, he breathed, but he was not alive. The only thing he had was his job, and he threw his world into it. When he lost his job, he lost all will to live. He considered what happened to be a grateful thing. The only thing that had stopped him from killing himself had been his pride.
He had been to proud to stop the pain and suffering that had plagued him for so long, that had plagued him for the past six years. It was why he had left the ER for the first time, it was why he had gone on sabbatical. He had gone to find himself, to try and rid himself of the nightmares that plagued him. They still plagued him, even now, even as he fought his way through the state of nothingness, he was trapped in hell.
He was in hell, and he knew it. Every day and night, he was plagued with the sights and sounds of her. Everywhere he went, his mind was filled with memories of her, how beautiful and perfect she was, how melodic her voice was, how she smelled, how she could laugh at everything. Yes, he was in hell. Hell wasn't fire and brimstone; rather it was memories of the most perfect person in the world, the most painful person in the world.
She had hurt him so much, but she hadn't meant to. She couldn't help it, she couldn't help the fact that she hurt him. it was all his fault, he hadn't noticed thing sin time, he hadn't bothered to try and right things, rather he had let his pride get in the way of the one that he had loved most, the one that hurt him the most. He had hurt himself, really, all of everything that happened had been his fault, and everything that had happened to her had been because of him.
He'd let his pride blind him to the obvious; he'd let his pride keep the most vital thing about her from him. he couldn't see her wasting away before his eyes, he refused to accept that she had a problem, he refused to accept that he couldn't help her. He had been so much like Pratt; he had been the hotshot who thought he could do anything, even if it meant killing a patient. He thought that if he couldn't do it, no one could, and that had been his downfall.
She wasted away before his eyes, and he let it happen, because he couldn't fix what was wrong with her. there were others that could, now he knew that. Now he knew that if he just bothered to ask for help that he could have gotten it. Now in hindsight, he knew that all he had to do was break down, forget about his pride and get some help. No, instead he let the most precious thing in his life slip away from his grasp because he thought he was too strong.
She had meant everything to him; she had been his only tie to sanity, his only tie to being human. She was his own flesh and blood, and he had let her slip from his grasp. Now in retrospect, he could only think of how much better he could have been. Now as he was tormented over and over in his own personal hell, now as he was tortured in the worst form possible, tortured with his own memories. He could have done so much more to save her.
And now, now he was forced to watch that dreadful day. Seeing the rosy red cheeks, and the strawberry blond hair. She was so perfect in every single way, so small, so fragile. And yet, she had been too much. She was too much for her own little life to bear. She had been to strong for her own good, it was her strength that killed her. she had inherited all of his pride, all of his strength, and it had killed both of them, killed first her, and now him.
She was always the beautiful little girl to him. she was never the troubled teenager she had become, except now. Now his hell spliced a memory of a cute little five year old, playing with a beach ball in the back yard, small little sun jumper on, with the pale, skeletal form that lay on the hospital bed, covered in charcoal, but to no hope. His hell turned picture and picture of his beloved over and over in front of him.
He had let all of this happen; he was too proud, to stubborn to accept the fact that his daughter had a problem. He was too proud to just think for one minute that he was the cause of that problem, that it was all his fault. That he had been the one that had driven her to do this. That he had been the one who was never around, that he had never even raised his own daughter, that he had been the one that had killed her through his own neglect.
She reminded him too much of his wife, the woman who had left him for another man, better looking, richer than the poor young med student that he was. He was left with nothing more than his dear Mallory, his daughter that he loved so much. But as much as he loved her, he just couldn't spend enough time with her, no matter how hard he tried. He had to work so hard to just keep the two of them alive, to make enough to afford a place to live and food.
So he neglected her, if inadvertently. He left her with nanny after nanny, babysitter after babysitter. He was the worst father in the world, he barely even saw his own daughter. It was why he tried so hard to reach out to Lizzie, because he saw the same problems with her, and her child as he did in himself. It's why he allowed Mark Greene so much slack. He knew what they had gone through, and he didn't want to put them through the hell he was currently going through.
And this was his hell. He was forced to relive the day that she died. He was forced to look at the skeletal form, brought in by her boyfriend of the time, a greasy young man that if he had bothered to pay attention to, he would've never let his dear Mallory date the boy. She was so pale, so weak, and so very close to the brink of death. He watched as the other doctors worked as hard as they could, he watched as the charcoal came back up, too late to save her.
He watched as finally, the heart monitor gave into the single steady line, and the doctors finally stopped, realizing all hope was lost. He sat there, in the harsh green walls of the trauma room, looking on at the pale form of the daughter he should have known, the child he should have been there for. How could this be the child that was so cute, so small, so happy when she was younger, how could this be the rosy cheeked youngster that she had been just five years previously?
The images repeated themselves over and over in his mind, as he gave in to the pain, there was nothing else he could do. he had already died, he had already gotten what he deserved. His karma had come back to him. All the times that he had been an asshole, all the times that he had not paid any attention to what he should have, all the times that he let his pride get in the way had come back to haunt him, haunt him eternally.
It was his fault that she was gone. And it had haunted him every day of his life, and now haunted him in his death. It had turned him into the cold, bitter man he was; it had built the callous, the shell around him. He had become cold and unfeeling, he had allowed this one death to get to him, and it ate away at him every moment. He couldn't even get any relaxation in death, even once he died, he was still haunted by her in his own personal hell.
He had been too proud, too wise for his own good. And she had been too strong, too independent. She thought she could handle her own life, and he wasn't there to stop her, he wasn't there to be a parent, he wasn't there to be anything for her. He should have done something to stop her, rather, she had wasted away before his eyes, and he let her, without a word otherwise. He let her drift off into the icy reaches of death.
All the things that he could have done to stop her, all the things that he only tried feebly to do before giving up. The most he had ever said was he pointed out idly that she wasn't doing herself a whole lot of good being a drug addict. If he had fought just a little bit harder, been just a little more involved in her life, then maybe he could have stopped the whole thing in the first place. But he hadn't, he hadn't been there enough to do that.
Instead, he was tormented with all these things that he could've, should've fixed in life. His life had been bad enough, he had to endure the pain of knowing what had happened, but now he was tormented with what had previously only been nightmares all the time. Now he was tormented with it in his death as well, now he was tormented with the scenes that had almost driven him to his death over and over again. Now his nightmare had become his personal, eternal, hell.