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A Beautiful Mess

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"Dr. Oliver? You have a meeting in five minutes," his secretary quickly pops her head into his office to remind him.

"Oh, right." Reid's been getting caught up with a huge amount of paperwork. He's just sold his condo in Dallas and the entire process took longer than expected, keeping him there much longer than necessary.

"They're providing lunch," she continues. "A whole tray of sandwiches straight from the deli." As if that is even a factor for him. It is.

"Okay, so," he closes a folder and stands, walking around his desk. "Page me in an emergency and page me in about 20 minutes because I know I'll be bored out of my skull."

He marches past her and hears her laugh, "You got it, boss."

Reid hates these monthly mandatory meetings. He's only been with Memorial Hospital's new neurology wing for three months but he finds them pointless. Dr. Bob Hughes, the chief of staff, insists on monthly meetings to discuss the future of the hospital. But, it usually turns into meet and greets with new staff and discussions revolving around people's personal lives. Reid doesn't have a personal life, nor does he want one, nor does he want to know about anyone else's.

The only reason he's on time for these things is to raid the deli tray.

Almost everyone is seated when Reid arrives and he makes a beeline for the food, fingers wiggling in anticipation as he looks at the generous spread.

"Ah, Dr. Oliver," Bob greets him. He's one of the last to arrive so he receives plenty of attention when he makes his entrance.

"Dr. Hughes," Reid nods, grabbing a small plate and piling on four of the mini-croissant sandwiches. There are four varieties. He's getting all four.

Once he's finished, he takes a seat, and starts in on the first one. They're perfectly bite-sized but he'll maintain a modicum of restraint in a room full of his colleagues. It seems like a fruitless attempt when he lifts his head and finds all eyes on him.

"What?" he mumbles, mouth full as he speaks around a bite.

Bob only shakes his head as Reid shrugs his shoulders and straights his notes, "Welcome, everyone. I hope you had a pleasant weekend. The first order of business we ---"

The door slams open and everyone's attention is diverted to it. "Sorry," this man apologizes, a flush of red on his cheeks when he realizes he's caused a commotion. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be late. I got a little caught up." He takes in a deep breath and sits down in the open seat next to Reid.

"Please, don't worry about it Dr. Snyder. We were just beginning. Help yourself to some water or coffee," Bob offers and Dr. Snyder shakes his head as he makes himself comfortable, taking out a folder from his messenger bag.

Reid thinks that the "doctor" can't possibly more than 20. If he's already reserving the nickname Doogie Hughes for Dr. Chris Hughes in pediatrics, what is he gonna call this kid?

Reid just finishes his bite and turns his attention back to Bob.

"Sorry," Dr. Snyder apologizes when he moves his chair and accidentally hits Reid's arm. Reid just looks over at him, mid-chew, and tries to listen to what's going on at the front of the room. But, the kid is incredibly distracting. He's fixing his papers, putting his bag on the ground, adjusting his chair, and getting on Reid's last nerve.

"And now, I'll let Dr. Snyder take the floor. As some of you know, Dr. Snyder is one of our newly hired pediatricians in our newly renovated pediatrics department. He has some ideas regarding the department that I'd like him to share with you all. Dr. Snyder."

"Um, yes," Dr. Snyder clears his throat and glances down at his notes. "Hi, I'm Luke, and I would prefer you all call me that in non-professional settings or if you just run into me in the cafeteria or something," he chuckles, noticeably nervous. But, mostly everyone seems charmed by it rather than put off. "I do have a couple of ideas for the department and one requires the involvement of other members of the staff."

Reid hates the sound of this already.

"I know that there's a small holiday party for the kids in the department but it's small. It's in a room and the room is decorated but that's it. Some of these kids are here for months and they experience the holidays within closed walls. I want to allow these kids to have the opportunity to be like any other kid during those times when they need it most. They should be able to go trick-or-treating during Halloween and have a big family Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving--"

"And, what, we're going to take the little cherubs door-to-door away from hospital care for a piece of candy or two?" Reid interrupts.

Luke looks over at him, a look of surprise on his face. "Uh, no. I was getting to that," his tone is clipped when he responds and Reid holds back an eye roll. "What I want to do is expand on that idea. Either hold a trick-or-treating type of event inside the hospital. Most of you decorate for Halloween anyway so maybe the kids can knock on your doors and get candy."

There are mumbles of positive responses in the room, not a single of them against this idea. Reid's obviously overruled.

"Thanksgiving, I'd like to arrange a family style Thanksgiving and use the cafeteria instead of delivering the meals to their rooms so that they're able to interact with the other kids and the families will be able to interact with each other. It will allow them to have a shared experience, shared positive memories. Not only will it be beneficial to the kids but to the families as well."

"That's a really great, Luke," Doogie pipes up from his seat. "Where are we gonna get the resources for this though? The hospital's budget goes to making improvements on the hospital."

"Yeah, that's where my other idea or suggestion comes in. My grandmother runs a foundation whose sole purpose is to grant organizations or institutions with enough funding for developing projects. If I manage to convince everyone here then the funding is taken care of for the rest of the year. I'm focusing only on the upcoming holidays, for now. Halloween's coming up soon and then Thanksgiving and finally, Christmas."

Reid thinks a philanthropic grandmother and a doctor for a grandson equals one very well-to-do family. He almost scoffs and he should've since Dr. Snyder's suggestion is met with more positive reinforcement. Voices start to ring out in chorus:

"That's so wonderful, Luke."

"I'm surprised it hasn't been done before, Dr. Snyder."

"This would be perfect for the kids and I'd love to help out!"

"If there's anything we can do to contribute, please, let us know."

Reid stays silent and works on finishing his second sandwich.

"I'd like to have many of you help but I understand that sometimes it isn't always possible and you have packed schedules. So, anything that you can do to contribute whether it be your time or even a bag of candy for Halloween, I appreciate it."

Reid glances over at him, wondering if this walking Hallmark card is for real.

"Excellent, thank you, Luke," Dr. Hughes takes the reins once again and once again, the conversation sways from hospital business to everyone's weekend plans. Thankfully, he has a very loyal secretary.

His pager goes off just as Dr. Taylor starts to talk about spending a long weekend in Vermont or New York or Timbuktu, Reid doesn't care. "That's me," Reid speaks quickly as he stands, glancing down at his pager.

"Dr. Oliver," Bob calls out to him before he can bolt to the door. "Sit down," he says sternly. "You've been pulling that same trick during every monthly meeting. Do you really think we haven't caught on by now?" Hearing chuckles around the room, he releases a loud sigh, and looks up at the ceiling.

Then, he looks over at the table full of food. "Fine, but you guys talk and I eat."

"I think we can live with that," Bob smirks, obviously amused despite his attempt to hide it.

Reid reaches for his plate and fills it for the second time. Dr. Taylor starts to speak again about his upcoming trip, where they're planning on staying, and when he gets to the part where the room comes with a free breakfast package, he comments, "Oh for the love of ---"

"Dr. Oliver?" Bob interrupts. When he has Reid's attention, he says, "Eat your sandwich."

 

---

 

It's been four days since the meeting. It's now Friday and Reid escorts one of his patients to the door of his office. "Call me if you have any questions but, you shouldn't. I've explained the procedure thoroughly, you're in my very experienced hands, and the only reassurance that you should need is that I'm amazing at what I do." He opens the door, gives her a flash of a smile that's almost sincere, and she leaves without saying a word, mouth still swinging open in surprise over his lack of bedside manner.

Reid huffs out a breath and is about to walk back to his desk when he hears, "Dr. Oliver."

It's the pediatrician. Snyder. Still no nickname. "Yes, Dr. Snyder?"

"I thought that I could talk to you for a minute about what I discussed last Monday at the meeting?" Reid notices that he's holding a folder in his hand and he reaches into his pocket to take a pen from his lab coat.

"Regarding?"

"The hospital Halloween trick-or-treat?"

"Oh. That." Rolling his eyes, Reid walks back to his desk, and takes a seat behind it, going back to reading his patient files. "What about it?" he asks, looking down at a chart.

"You're the only one who hasn't spoken to me about it or volunteered to stay after hours."

"And why would I wanna do that?"

When there's nothing but silence for a minute, Reid looks up from his paperwork to find a smirking Dr. Snyder.

"What?"

"They warned me about you," Luke says knowingly and takes a seat in the chair positioned in front of the desk. "I was going down my list and mentioned that you hadn't volunteered for anything and they told me that you probably would when hell freezes over."

"Do you really not have anything better to do with your time, Dr. Snyder? You have to skip from room to room to gossip about me?"

"Just give me one good reason why you don't wanna do this. You don't feel any sympathy for those kids? Those poor, sick kids who have to be stuck inside of a hospital instead of out there with their friends, brothers and sisters, cousins, doing all the normal things that ---"

"What you don't seem to understand Dr. Snyder is that those kids are in here for a reason. They aren't like the normal kids. They're going through things that no kid should have to go through but they're doing it and by being in here, inside these walls? They're getting better. Why is this so important to you? Brother undergoing surgery? Cousin break their leg?"

"Me, Dr. Oliver. I was in the hospital. I was a kid with a kidney transplant and I was stuck inside of these same walls. I know exactly what it was like to be in here and not feel like a normal, regular kid. And you know what, Dr. Oliver? I was a normal kid. I was just going through a really bad time. But, I don't think that you'd know anything about that. Would you?"

They stare at one another, gazes unwavering, unflinching, and Luke's the first one to blink and shuts his folder. He stands up from the chair, about to make a hasty exit when he changes his mind and walks back to the desk. He's directly in front of it, hands pressed against the wooden surface, leaning in, and making an attempt to look menacing.

"On second thought, no, I don't think that you would know anything about that. You, the brilliant neurosurgeon that people recognize and acknowledge but no one really knows. No one knows anything about you and you don't make an attempt to know anyone else. I've been here for less than two weeks and I know something about almost everyone in this hospital but you."

"Dr. Snyder," he stands up from his chair, hands in the pockets of his lab coat. "What you don't understand is that I have one purpose here and one purpose only and that's to help my patients. So, take your little extracurricular activity and go find someone else to play with in the sandbox."

The anger radiates in waves from Luke. If looks can kill, Reid's dead on the floor. Luke's eyes bore into his, the anger obvious in his expression, and instead of saying anything else, he turns around and he leaves. Reid's surprised he doesn't slam the door behind him. Instead, he leaves it open, and marches down the empty hallway, his footsteps echoing on the tile.

Dr. Snyder leaves him feeling drained. If he's honest, this is the most interesting thing that's happened since he's arrived at Memorial. No one here's ever confronted him like that regarding his behavior. He's been himself since day one and as long as he's efficient at his job, there are no complaints.

Reid tries to shake off the feeling but it sticks with him and he ends up going home not too long after the confrontation. Hopefully he won't have to deal with Dr. Snyder anytime soon.

 

---

 

Of course, that's not what happens. Reid starts to run into Luke everywhere. He's in the pharmacy, filling a prescription. He's in the cafeteria laughing with Doogie Hughes over something ridiculous, no doubt. He's in the hallway, in the break room, and eventually, they meet at the coffee dispenser one afternoon.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were stalking me," Reid comments as he reaches for the coffee pot.

"What are you talking about?" Luke reaches for the coffee pot at the same time but pulls his hand away when he sees that it's gone.

"I've been seeing you everywhere I go lately," he mentions as he fills his mug and then passes the pot to Dr. Snyder.

"Funny, I haven't noticed. Thanks," he takes the pot and pours himself a cup.

They move to the counter where they can fix their coffees the way that they like it, still standing next to one another. "Everyone all ready for the trick-or-treating extravaganza?" Reid finds that he can't stop the words from escaping.

"What do you care?" They glance at each other and he sees Luke smirking.

"You're right, I don't," he agrees.

"But, if you're curious, yeah. The kids are excited. The decorations are gonna start going up this week so if you want to avoid them then you're gonna have to keep your head down as you walk through the hallways," he's practically beaming as he says it and Reid rolls his eyes.

"Thanks for the warning," he sips his coffee. Too bitter. He adds more sugar.

Luke stops stirring his drink and turns to look at Reid. "Dr. Oliver, the very least you can do is stick a bowl of candy outside of your office. You don't even have to buy it. Put the bowl out and I'll put the candy in myself."

"Why do you need me to participate in this? You have the whole team on board. Aren't they enough?"

"They're enough. But, I think that if the kids go to each door, they'll know that everyone here cares about their well-being. Everyone."

"They're not going to go around and count every single door to see who's giving them candy and who's not."

Luke just smirks and shrugs his shoulders, picking up his mug. "Put the bowl out and I'll take care of it."

Reid says nothing as Luke begins to walk away. That all seems too easy. He doesn't even have a bowl.

After getting his coffee, he walks back to his office, and is about to walk to the door when he pauses. Sighing, he glances over at his secretary. "Jaymie?" She turns to look at him. "Go buy a large plastic bowl before the end of the week and just ... leave it outside the door." She looks at him curiously but nods, turning to write it down on her notepad.

Slumping his shoulders, he opens the door, trudges into his office, and closes the door behind him.