Past Tense, Present Tense, Future Tense
SPOILERS: season 1-6
DISCLAIMER: Don't own characters. No money made. Don't sue. You get the point.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'm a big time fan of Carol, Doug, Tess, and Kate. I've written several stories about them. This one doesn't tie into the others.
SUMMARY: It's a Saturday in 2009 and after a long frightening road…Carol and Doug find out that Tess is more like her mother than anyone could imagine.
Chapter I: Past Tense
Carol and Doug were dating again. But they kept it a secret no one knew except Mark, and he promised he wouldn't tell. But everyone did know, they figured it out themselves from the looks between Doug and Carol. They continued this "secret" love affair for months resisting every urge to tell a co-worker. It was late in the year, Christmas time actually, that Carol finally decided to tell. The season was bright and on Christmas Eve the two became engaged.
Tess could picture every detail of this story perfectly; this part was her favorite part of the story. But it always came to the time she hated. Her father Doug had tried his hardest to plan the wedding while her mother Carol had been happy just being engaged. In the next year things had changed. Dad had wanted to become attending pediatrician, but no one saw the need for one.
The issue had closely observed and debated, but by the end of the year her father had decided to leave Chicago. He had begged mom to go with him, but she had refused. And so, one foggy night her mother had sat in the bitter wind holding her hair still, and she and dad had said goodbye for one final time. Tess hated the part where dad left. But the story got better, and so she remembered on with the tale.
By the mid months of that year, mom had found out she was pregnant. The ultrasound revealed she was carrying twins, Doug's twins. Tess sat looking at her twin sister Kate knowing that they were the twins from the story. Her mother had phoned had Dad a while later to find that he was not coming back. So she went on with her life knowing that she alone would raise these children.
One foggy day, as mom always told it, the twins had been born in unexpected ways. First Tess and then Kate. The sad fact though was that dad hadn't been there for the birth. She and Kate had come in to the world with just the doctors, nurses, and their mother by their side. For the first years of life the twins and Carol had lived in Chicago. They had lived there uneasily though, because mom had a painful hole in her heart. This is where the love of Doug Ross was. It was a hole because Carol never got to see Doug. Next was Tess's favorite part of the story.
Mom realized why she was so incomplete, and so one sunlight day she had left for Seattle on a quest to find her true love Doug. Her dad had been surprised to see mom, but their hearts were quickly sewn back together at the sight of each other. Then it wasn't long before they were once again engaged. This time though things worked out, and plans for the wedding were made. By now in the story she and Kate were 4. Kate was the flower girl and Tess was the ring bearer. They had been given the choice, and fortunately both wanted a different job.
It had gone as planned, that day had. And now 5 years later tears filled Tess's small swollen eyes as she remembered. One night two years ago Dad had left, and he hadn't been seen since. He had been on his way to work, and he never came home. He had promised mom he would never leave! Not ever again! He'd promised to be there with her with Kate and me! But now he was gone and all they had left of him were two letters written on the day of there birth.
Tess had been sitting thinking of the story with the letter in her hand. Mom had forgotten the letter, or at least that is what she said. Tess was afraid to open the letter. Kate was asleep she didn't know that the letter sat on the table next to her. There was a letter addressed to Kate and one to Tess. Tess was a brilliant girl. She picked up the letter off her lap, and then she picked up the one on the table next to Kate.
"Mom," she said shakily "put these up before Kate knows about them. We can't read them, not until we know where Dad is."
"Tess why, what do you mean?" Asked Carol though she knew very well what she meant.
"Just put them up before we wake Kate!" Tess had yelled quietly at her mother.
Her mother obeyed the plea's of her daughter. Her face was expressionless.
"Mom he will come home," She said assuringly "He will come home."
Her mother had nodded, although Tess knew her mother didn't mean this gesture. Her mother didn't believe it was true, and maybe it wasn't. Maybe Tess had filled her heart with false hope. But she couldn't give up not now not ever! Tess walked quietly up to her room. And silently turned on the TV. She turned it to the news, she liked the news.
"We have a breaking news story" said Jack the reporter.
"That's right Jack. Earlier today police went into a house with a search warrant. The house was owned by one Rob Mullger,"
A picture of the man was flashed on the screen.
"Police had reason to believe that somewhere hidden in the house were bags of cocaine and other drugs. Also police believed Rob had been keeping a hostage in the house for at least two years. Suspicions were confirmed when a man who said not to release his age was found in one of the back rooms. He appeared healthy although slightly thin. We have a reporter on the scene right now, Tom?" said his co-reporter Susan.
"Earlier today," Started Tom "Police went into Rob Mullger's house. Police report findings of cocaine and other illegal drugs, as well as a man who would not allow his age to be given out. He would not agree to an interview, but said to tell his daughters, Tess and Kate, and his wife Carol Ross that he was fine and would be coming home as soon as possible. Back to you Jack."
"We will bring you more on this story later, as information becomes available. Now over in…" Jack began, but Tess stopped paying attention.
"Mom, Kate, Mom, Kate! Daddy is alive!" She screamed running down the stairs.
She heard a yawn as her sister woke up.
"What are you talking about Tess…?" But a ringing phone cut off the rest of what she was going to say.
*Ring, ring, ring!* went the telephone. Carol picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" She questioned the receiver. "This is she…yes…oh hello officer…OH WHAT WONDERFUL NEWS!…Yes we will be right there."
"Girls come quickly…" But Tess cut Carol off.
"Told you so." She said in a smart-alecky voice.
They piled into the car. Through the whole drive to the police station Tess ran the words of the reporters through her mind. He is fine, he is fine, he is fine rang in her ears. She sat back in the seat sighing contentedly. Oblivious to everything else in the world, she hadn't given up hope and that was the best thing she had ever done. She knew daddy hadn't disappeared of his own accord. Her heart was in her throat so full of good emotions it floated there.
"What is going on?" Asked Kate bringing Tess back to the real world.
"We are going to see Doug." Said mother calmly, but Tess knew it took effort to keep her voice calm.
"But I thought he left." Said Kate confused.
"Of course not, began Tess "He was grownup-napped by Rob Mullger a local drug consumer."
"How do you know that?" Asked Carol
"It was on the news." Explained Tess calmly.
Everyone was to excited to say more. They sat quietly in the car, silently picturing the reunion with Doug. But Tess knew how it would go. Mom and dad would kiss, she would gag, and Kate would think it romantic. She chuckled to herself. The only time she hadn't gagged at a kiss was the day of the wedding. At the words "You may now kiss your bride." She had smiled actually and clapped. Then she and Kate had run along behind them as they exited the chapel. They had finally been a family. Until that day two years ago which now seemed so far in the past, in the faraway land known as Chaos. And now they were coming to the border of reunion.
Doug was sitting on a bench in the front office of the police station, waiting for his family. They would understand why he hadn't come home. Knowing Tess though she had probably already seen it on the news, and told everyone. That would save him some explaining. Carol, Tess, and Kate walked into the police station. Immediately Doug stood to greet them. The eyes of his children and wife had never sparkled so.
"Hello." Said Doug and Carol in unison. They were too happy to see each other to say more.
"DADDY!" Yelled Kate as she ran up to him. Tess stayed behind walking slowly.
Sighing quietly she said "Hello father." And she went to join in the hugging ceremony.
It was almost exactly as she'd pictured in the car, but she wasn't paying a whole ton of attention. She was lost in the clouds, mostly through the excitement of daddy coming home she thought. The day was not like usual after that. Mom didn't cry, Kate wasn't quiet, Dad was finally home again safely. But Tess was the same, she'd been this way for nearly 5 years, tomorrow was the 5th anniversary of the day she changed.
Not many people keep track like that, but Tess did. And even through the excitement of dad coming home she was still as sad as ever. Actually she was getting worse. Sadder each day, but she didn't pay much attention to that fact. Maybe that was another side effect of whatever illness she had contracted. She wasn't quite sure. But today was a day to celebrate. Dad was home, mom was happy, Kate was well Kate, and they were a family again. No matter how she felt she was going to live today to the fullest, even if she was on the brink of losing her sanity.
Chapter II: Present Tense
She looked at the picture on her desk. It was a picture of Mom and Dad at the hospital, mom on the gurney. She didn't know what the picture was of. All she knew was that it was one of the few pictures they had taken before her Dad left for Seattle. Well it was one of the few taken of the two together. In the picture dad sat holding her hand, while mom lay asleep looking almost dead.
Tess sat down on her bed with the picture. She began humming her favorite song's melody. Though she didn't know its name or its words. She stared at the picture taking in every detail. It stayed up in her room and she was not allowed to bring it downstairs. She thought it was because dad was gone, but now she was unsure. Her mother couldn't stand the picture. Her father seemed unfazed by it. She was confused but she did as she was told with it.
"Hey kido." Came a voice from the hall. It was dad.
"Hey dad." She called back.
"What you looking at?" He asked her. Coming in he saw the picture and knew immediately what it was. "You kept this?" He asked her.
"O' course I kept it. It's the only picture I have of you and mom together before our birth. See the date is 1994." She replied confused.
"So you don't know what it is of then do you?" He asked her
"No. Does it have a special meaning?" She asked him.
"You should know what it is of. Kate should to. Let me go get her." He said leaving "Kate come here please."
"Ya dad?" She asked
"I want to talk to you and Tess about the picture." He said sitting down. "You see the date 1994. Well that was a bad year for your mother, and me too I guess. We had just broken up after that first time dating. One day your mother went home after a shift, and no one in the ER thought that bad either, but it was. A few hours later we got a call from an ambulance…53 I believe it was. They read off the description of a female to the nurse on duty. The lady was in critical condition. Suicide attempt they said as she was wheeled into the hospital on a gurney. No one expected… It was your mother."
The twins stared at him in disbelief. They couldn't picture their mother on a gurney. They hardly were able to picture it for their birth, much less a suicide attempt.
"Pills?" Asked Kate looking at her father. He nodded slightly.
"I never… Who… what… why…?" Said Tess looking at the picture. She now saw the monitor a near flat line on its screen. "It is still a nice picture of you and mom, and it kinda reminds us how lucky we are to exist. And how lucky you are to have her. I think I will keep it out on the desk still"
Her dad nodded. He knew she was right. They were lucky, very lucky, too lucky to imagine. They were gone now, but she still sat looking at the picture. Evil thoughts ran through her mind. She wanted to think about it, this new information. She went to the place she always did to think, the bathroom, and she locked the door behind her for some peace, smiling mysteriously.
"What are we having for dinner?" Asked Kate.
"It's a surprise go get your sister." Said her mother
"Ok." She said "Tess. TESS!" She ran up the stairs. Noticing the locked bathroom door she knew where Tess was. "TESS!" she screamed at the door. "Come on lets go eat."
"TESS! PLEASE COME ON! THIS ISN'T FUNNY!" She called out again
"I WILL GET DAD IF YOU DON'T COME RIGHT THIS MINUTE!" She called again
"DAD, TESS WONT COME. SHE WONT EVEN ANSWER ME!" She called down to her dad.
"Coming Kate." He called up to her, his feet thumping on each stair. "Tess come out and eat. We are having your favorite." He said winking at Kate.
"COME OUT THIS MINUTE TESS!" He called at the door.
He pulled out the key to the door, and slowly opened it. No one moved just stared. Carol came walking in the room. Noting the picture she frowned. Then she noticed Kate and Doug just standing there. Doug came back to the real world. "Carol call 911!" He called to her. Carol was confused but obeyed.
"She's crashing!" called a paramedic.
"Carol start chest compressions!" Called out Doug. They had ridden along in the ambulance, leaving Kate with a neighbor.
"She needs to be intubated!" Called out Doug.
"No Doug, this is your daughter your not in any condition to! You were the one who found her. It had a big impact on you, just like on my roommate when she found…me!" Called out Carol looking at Doug.
"I can't just let her die!" He called back.
"Then do rescue breathing!" Called the paramedic over the roar of the engine.
Doug bent over in the cramped compartment and did as he was told.
The call came into the emergency room. "Yes this is County General, what have you got 53?" Said someone into the radio.
"Female, 10 years of age, Suicide attempt, BP 50 over 75. She's crashing. BP just went down. Do you want a name?" Called a paramedic into the radio.
"Sure." said the person at the other end of the line
"Name is Tess Ross." Called the paramedic.
"Did I hear right? Tess Ross? Doug and Carol's Tess Ross? Called the now recognizable voice of John Carter.
"Yes." Called Doug in-between rescue breaths. "Is that you John?"
John was the person nearest the radio. But at the mention of the name Tess Ross everyone had jerked up.
"Doug?" But you have been gone for two years.
"I'll explain later, but now can we please just save my daughter?" He called joking slightly.
"Doug! This is not a time to joke! Tess is dieing and you are joking with Carter!" Carol yelled at him agitated.
"Carol?" Said a confused voice on the other end of the line.
"Yes. Now can we please cut this conversation short, we're almost to the ambulance bay?" She yelled even more agitated.
The paramedic ended the transmission.
"All right guys," Carter called to everyone around him. " Tess Ross, yes that Tess Ross, attempted suicide. They are almost here so get ready!" He called out Jerry what trauma room is empty?" He asked knowing the answer.
"All of them are." Answered Jerry
"So much for the quiet day" muttered Lydia.
The gurney on which Tess lay was quickly rolled into trauma room 1. Carol and Doug stood back away from the chaos as doctors and nurses began barking orders to each other. They sat down Carol's hand in Doug's. She was leaned over crying on his shoulder.
"I told her about the picture in her room." He sighed, "I thought she and Kate should know. I didn't think she would ever get such an idea from it. I guess she really is like you just as I predicted in the letter. He laughed.
Carol sat up and elbowed him. "Doug!" She Yelled seriously. "Don't joke like that!"
He laughed rubbing the spot of impact. "I'm just trying to cheer you up."
"Well it isn't working, you know I don't like that mentioned. I'm trying to forget it. But now how can I?" She said leaning against his shoulder to cry once more. "You know she will have to go to therapy like me, and we are short on money because of those two years without you. Do you still have your job?" she asked " After these two years they may have given up on you. It wasn't easy to come to work, to come here to the memories. That coffee cup you used last time is sitting in there, and I saw it every time I went in the lounge." She was crying again so much that he couldn't understand the rest of her words.
"Shhhh." He said "It will be ok. Tess will be ok…I'm ok. That was years ago your ok. You don't have to forget it. It's like when my dad died I wanted to forget him, but at the same time I wanted to remember him. You need to remember it. Just think if you hadn't done it. You wouldn't have gotten therapy. You and I wouldn't haven't gotten back together. Tess and Kate wouldn't be born. And you wouldn't have someone to relive the memories with who understood about why you did it. You would still be sick. And maybe if you did it later you would have died. Remember the good things about it, no matter how hard it is. Help our daughter get better through your memories. Give her some good ones of her own." He smiled at her.
"Maybe your right Doug, maybe your right." She said. Frowning to herself when he looked away. "Of course he's wrong you idiot. No he isn't you know that. Yes he is. No he's not." Her head was spinning from these thoughts. Brought back to the real world only by the sweet voice of a doctor.
"Doug, Carol," Said John "Tess is still critical but looking good. They are moving her now to the PICU. So care to explain?" he asked Doug.
"If you're sure you want to know then, as you know two years ago on my way hear for a graveyard shift…" He began, but Carol started to cry again when she heard the word graveyard. "Oh sorry Carol. Anyway I was coming here for a night shift. When out of nowhere some crazy guy drives right in front of me. I swerve and miss him, but my car flips over landing on its wheels in the grass. I was on a country road where no one ever drives, and my car didn't start. Then the driver of that other car comes and asks if I need a lift. I accept the offer thankful for the generosity. His name was Rob Mullger. I told him where to take me and I was surprised when he went a different way than I'd been going. He took me too his house and locked me up. Feeding me only what I needed. That's where I was for two years, until today the police came and here I am."
Carter was stunned. He couldn't believe it. "And Tess did this on the same day you got home?" He asked noting the nod of Doug's head.
Carol began to sob again at the mention of Tess and hearing the full story. But mostly these were tears of joy. Soon Mrs. Lynn, their neighbor, brought Kate to the hospital. She clung to her mother as they went to see Tess, and through the many tubes surrounding her they knew she would be fine. And that soon enough they would be a complete family once again.
Chapter III: Future Tense
"Dear journal it has been two years since my suicide attempt. I have to go to therapy now, still. I'm better now though, it helps that mom went through this same thing. Maybe that's why I did it. Also it helps that I have a new little brother. Well he's 7 months old, but still he's not even a year old. Although I have mentioned it before his name is Douglas Ross Jr. Actually how could you forget? Since my dad is Douglas Ross, it's kind of hard to forget my brother's name. But imagine in the future. Doug come here! They both answer at the same time, what? That would be funny. I didn't think it was a good idea to name him that. But Dad and Kate insisted. Mom was kind of leaning toward Donald as a name, but went with what Kate and Dad wanted. I like Donald better. Actually though they changed the middle name, my brother is Douglas Vincent Ross. At least they say they changed the middle name they never told me what dad's middle name is or if he has one at all. Oh well gotta go, therapy." Tess wrote this in her journal. Her therapist made her keep a journal, she was going to stop as soon as possible and throw it away.
She hadn't mentioned the fact that Mom was yet again pregnant in her journal. This wasn't planned. Oh well she would mention him/her later.
"Tess, dear its time to go see Dr. Macini." Called Carol from the base of the stairs.
"He likes to be called John! You know that he told you to call him John even if he is my therapist!" She yelled at her mother agitated
"I'm surprised you call him a therapist. I always called my therapist a shrink." Carol told her from the door way.
"Don't remind me." She said annoyed.
"Well now Miss Ross, how long has it been since your suicide attempt?" Asked her therapist John.
She liked her therapist; except for the times he asked the same question over and over. If he asked once she answered, but as it accumulated once each day for instance she got annoyed.
"You know full well how long it has been, I told you yesterday and the day before that and the day before that for weeks!" She said agitated again.
"Well then lets move on to something we haven't talked about. Why did you do it?" He asked her.
"To be honest," She explained in a sweet voice. "I don't know. I heard the story of my mother doing it, and something took hold of my body. I didn't want to take that bottle down, I didn't want to remove those pills from the bottle and swallow them all down. But I did, I don't know why and nothing can change the past.
John made a few marks on the page he was holding. "Ok so anything new happen lately at home?"
"No not really. Mom got another check up at the hospital for the 4th baby. It is doing fine." Replied Tess trying to stay calm.
"That's good news. So what do you think the name should be?" He asked
"Well I really don't know. I guess Thomas or Lisa." She replied.
"Those are lovely names." He said sweetly
"Quit the baby treatment, its annoying." She told him.
"So you're voicing your opinions again that's a good sign." He told her looking at his watch. Oh well our hour is up, so I will see you next week.
"So that means I will have to endure 5 more days of school, come home to worry of Kate and Dad, and then come back to listen to your baby treatment next week too? That is something I could live without." She said through gritted teeth.
"You didn't mention your mother as something you dreaded in the coming week, why is that?" John asked.
"I can't believe you don't know. Well anyway I'm not telling you so you will have to just figure it out on your own!" She replied angry again, as she got up to leave the room.
Sitting in the front room waiting for her mother, she tried to ignore the other staring patients. She was fine couldn't everyone leave her alone? But she figured if her mother said she needed to do something now it was probably true. After all she had gone through this same thing.
"So how was your session Tess?" Asked her mother in a pathetic attempt to start a conversation.
"Oh fine." Tess said although it was a slight lie. She'd been so angry and yelled at John so much. But she didn't want to talk about that not even with her mother.
"That's good. So same time next week I presume." Her mother said
"Ya." Tess made a noise that sounded like a ya.
Her mother accepted the response and drove quietly home.
"You probably wish everyone would forget it, and leave you alone. I did. I wanted everyone to shut up about 'Oh are you ok? Are you sure you are finished with therapy? Do you want to talk about it?' I was sick of those words. I never could escape them. When I went back to work people either treated me kindly or like I was invisible. Like they did when you went back to school." She told her making a gagging noise.
Well her mother was right about one thing. She told someone about her suicide attempt, and the news spread through the school. Eventually her teachers asked if it was true. She couldn't lie to them, and had to say that yes it was true. So it had been the same way with mom that was a reassuring thought. She smiled at the thought actually. For the first time in two years she smiled.
She dreaded bedtime that night; going back to school was painful. No one had gotten over the news. She didn't have friends anymore. Her best friend had moved a year ago. A few people noticed that the subject was touchy and never mentioned it to anyone. But she had gotten used to it now. She was in Jr. High now; the news had of course spread throughout her new school.
"Tess grab your brother! Hurry Carol is in labor we have to go!" Called Doug, from down stairs.
Tess jumped at the mention of her name. Running to his crib she grabbed Douglas and ran downstairs quickly baby-bag in hand.
"Kate is getting your mother to the car." Her dad explained. "I have to get a few things real quick. Go join Kate and your mother in the car.
She obeyed silently. Setting Doug in his car seat and the diaper bag on the floorboard. She climbed in next to him and buckled her seatbelt. There was little talking as they waited for her dad. Approaching the hospital little Doug began to cry. Tess tried to quiet him, but it was no use. Once her mother was out of the car escorted by Kate she took little Doug out of his car seat. She sway him in a ship-like motion. Humming silently the melody of her favorite song.
Kate and Tess sat in the waiting room along with a few other people. Little doug was in Tess's lap. He began to cry, and she pulled a half full bottle out of the baby bag. She handed Doug and the bottle to her sister and stood up to stretch. They had been there for nearly 2 hours. Sitting quietly except for the occasional cry of Douglas. She smiled at the thought that in a few years Douglas I and Douglas II would have a great time sorting out nicknames.
It seemed like an eternity before the three siblings were guided down the corridors of the hospital to meet their fourth sibling. They were led to a room down a quiet hallway, deserted except for the nurse and the siblings. Tess was oblivious of the world from that point on until she heard someone say
"Tess, Kate, Douglas," She looked at there father when she said the third name. "Meet your brother Mark Taglieri Ross." The little infant cooed at the mention of his name.
"He seems to like the name." Said Kate trying to keep the squirming toddler in her hand under control. "Is he named after anyone in particular?" She asked this because the little boy in her hands was named after their father.
"Actually yes," said their father "You remember Mark Green that we used to talk about all the time. And he gets his middle name from…" But he was cut off by Carol.
"An old friend from long ago, who I haven't seen in many years." She finished his sentence although differently than Doug would have.
Tess laughed out loud at her thoughts. "Now we are a family complete. And I will never do that again. No matter how hard this life gets. Now there are too many people who would be touched in the wrong ways. And I always have mom to lean on in everyday to come." She looked at every person in her family, thinking these thoughts silently, and smiled.