"Amy! Amy, wait!"

"No, Michael, no!" She shook her head firmly, shoving the entrance door open and marching out of the Glendale Galleria shopping center, down the broad inclined walkway, heading towards the parking structure as Michael chased after her, hoping she'd get to her car before he got to his. Normally, she was happy to spend some time with him for old time's sake, but the last thing she needed, the last thing she wanted, was to feel vulnerable, helpless, in the one place she hated most in the world. No way was she going back there, not now. Not today. Not ever...that is, if she could help it.

"Amy please, stop!" He cried. "This is serious. You have to listen to me."

Ignoring his pleas, she quickened her pace, determined to reach her car at all costs. "Leave me alone, Michael!" Reaching her car a minute later, she reached inside her green Hedge hog print purse and hastily dug around for her car keys. Where were they? Come on, come on! She had to get out of here! Unfortunately, Michael was at her side less than a minute later.

"Amy, please..." He pleaded, setting his hand on her shoulder, but she quickly pulled away and shot a glare up at him through her deep brown eyes. "We need to get this taken care of, sooner rather than later."

She exhaled sharply. "We? There is no we. This isn't your problem, Michael, it's mine, and I can deal with it on my own."

"Honey, listen to me, you could have an appendicitis, and if you don't get it taken care of, it could rupture, and if that happens, you could die. Do you really want that?"

Crossing her arms firmly over her chest, she stood her ground. "Michael, please, just leave me alone."

"Amy, I'm telling you, not as your doctor, but as your friend...you need to get this checked out as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the worse-"

"Stop!" She insisted, holding up a hand to silence him. Slipping her hand back inside her purse, she found her car keys and turned to unlock the door. "I'm not going to the damn hospital, and there's nothing that you or..." Her voice trailed off as a sharp pain shot through the right side of her abdomen, both of her hands instantly going to her side as she cried out in pain. "Owwww...oh God, Michael! It hurts! It really, really hurts!"

Michael quickly stepped towards her, his brows stitching together in concern. "Where? Show me where it hurts, honey."

She pointed to the hand over her right side. "Right heeere!"

He gently brushed her hand away and lifted her shirt, pressing against her abdomen, making her cry out loudly in pain. Quickly pulling his hand back, he scowled deeply. "Okay, okay...does it hurt more when I press down or when I let go?"

"I don't know! Both!"

He sighed deeply, running his fingers through his short, wavy brown hair. "That's rebound tenderness."

She winced, holding her side with both hands. "Owww...what?"

"Sounds like an appendicitis." Wrapping his left arm around her waist to hold her steady, he pressed his other hand against her forehead, his wide hazel eyes widening in surprise. "You're burning up. We need to get you to the ER right now. Come on..." Before she had a chance to debate with him, he led her around to the opposite side of her car and helped her into the passenger's seat.

"Wait, you're gonna drive my car?" She asked.

Knelting down to her level, he took her wrist in his hand and stared down at his watch, checking her pulse. "Looks like it. I parked mine a little farther away, and like I said before, the less time we waste, the better." He eased the seat all the way back then asked for her keys. She gave them to him without hesitation. After shutting the door, he walked quickly around to the driver's side and slipped behind the wheel. He adjusted the seat to his six-foot frame and turned the key into the ignition, pulling out of the parking structure and heading quickly in the direction of the hospital. "Just hang in there, honey, all right? We'll be there before you know it."

Amy winced, groaning painfully at the pain stabbing through her abdomen. "Just please don't make a big deal about it when we get there."

"I can't promise that. If it is an appendicitis as I suspect it is, you're going to need immediate surgery."

"What!" Amy cried, quickly pushing herself up to her elbows. "Surgery? No. No, Michael! Please...isn't there some medicine you can give me for it? I mean, you don't know for sure if it's that. It could be something else. You don't-owwww!" She fell back against the seat, holding her stomach and cringing.

"I can't give you any medicine for it. That appendix needs to come out, honey. That's the only way you're going to feel better."

She shook her head, her eyes welling up in tears. "Michael, please...I don't want..."

Reaching out, he took her hand in his, giving it a reassuring squeeze and glancing down at her with a scowl. "Oh honey, please don't cry, please. Hey, I'm going to be right there with you, okay? I promise."

Amy scowled deeply, wincing and whimpering as the pain shot through her once again. "Oh god Michael, please...please help me."

"I am, we're almost there. Just try and hang in there. Take a few deep breaths, Amy, all right? It should help ease some of the pain. We'll be at the hospital in less than five minutes."

She gently nodded her head, doing as he told her to and taking a few deep breaths. Surprisingly, it helped, well, for a minute. "God, I feel like I'm in an episode of Doogie Howser M.D., only you're not a kid, but I definitely feel like Wanda right now."

Michael chuckled softly. "More like an episode of ER. I always related most to Noah Wyle's character, John Carter."

"Okay, a combination of ER and Doogie Howser." She cringed, shutting her eyes and sucking in a few more deep breaths. "God, just get it out of me already!"

"I will. Just a couple more blocks, honey."

"Hurry," she whimpered, continuing to take in those deep breaths, one after the other. A couple minutes later, they arrived at their destination and Michael put the car in park.

Quickly exiting the driver's side, Michael dashed around to the opposite side, opening her door and scooping her up into his arms. "All right, I got you, honey. You're going to be okay. I'm going to take good care of you. Just try and relax." She wrapped her arms loosely around his neck. Shutting the door with his hip, he turned and ran towards the side emergency room doors, the ones the paramedics entered through, not the regular entrance everyone else used. He burst through the doors with her in his arms and shouted to anyone within hearing distance. "I need a gurney over here!"

Two nurses and a tall, dark haired, brown-eyed, young Caucasian doctor brought over a gurney less than a minute later and Michael laid her on top of it.

"Dr. Brentwood! I thought you had the day off today," the dark haired Hispanic nurse remarked.

"I do, but not for her," he said, looking down at a wincing Amy. "This is my friend, Amy Gellar. We were at the mall together when it started."

"Amy, huh?" The young doctor asked. "Well don't you worry, Amy, I'm Dr. Barnett, and Dr. Brentwood and I are going to take extra special care of you."

"What's open?" Michael asked.

"Trauma Two."

"All right, let's go." Together, the four of them quickly rolled the gurney towards the trauma room. Michael looked across the gurney at Dr. Barnett. "Amy Gellar, twenty-four years old, rebound tenderness with abdominal pain on the lower right quadrant, pulse is seventy two, possible fever, probably an appendicitis, I want to get an ultrasound, CBC, ABG, Chem 7, and IV with a five hundred milligrams of M-S started right away."

"Yes, doctor," the Hispanic nurse nodded in agreement.

Amy looked up at Michael with a deep scowl, lifting her hand and running it over her face, exhaling sharply. "God, will you speak english, Michael? Please?"

"They're just tests, Amy," he explained, his brows furrowing in concern. "How you doing? You okay?"

She shook her head softly, "no," she whimpered, biting down on her bottom lip in an effort to keep herself from crying.

"Just hang in there, all right? I'm going to take good care of you." He looked up at Dr. Barnett as the gurney made a right turn, bursting head first through the swinging trauma room doors. "I want to get her prepped and ready for surgery as soon as possible. I think we're going to have to operate right away."

"Absolutely," Dr. Barnett said.

"No, Michael..." She whimpered as the gurney came to a sudden stop.

"Yes honey, I told you, we have to," he told her, running his hand over her forehead and smoothing back her soft blonde hair. The nurses worked quickly, slipping a few probes under her shirt and hooking her up to a heart monitor, attaching a clip to her right index finger for a pulse ox machine, and starting an IV. As Dr. Barnett started to take her blood pressure, Michael looked up at the rapidly beeping heart monitor then down at Amy. "You're going to be okay, Amy, all right? I'm right here. I'm not leaving you."

"I want you to be my doctor," she insisted, a couple tears rolling down her cheeks.

He leaned in, taking her hand in his with a reassuring squeeze, a soft smile crossing his face. "I will, I will, I promise. You won't have to see any other doctor but me, okay?" She gently nodded her head, feigning a small smile.

"BP's ninety over sixty," Dr. Barnett told Michael.

Michael sighed softly, glancing up at the heart monitor then the pulse ox machine beside him. "Sats are down to eighty five. Let's put her on six liters of oxygen by nasal prong." He looked down at Amy. "Hey, listen, I need to go slip into my lab coat, okay? I'll be right back." He turned to leave, but she pulled him back.

"No!" She cried, wincing painfully and groaning as the pain shot through her abdomen again. "Ow! Oh God." Looking up at him, she scowled deeply, her bottom lip trembling with on coming tears as one of the nurses slipped a tube into her nostrils, and tucking it behind her ears. "Stay with me, please. Please Michael, don't leave me, please..."

He scowled at the desperation and hurt in her voice. "Okay, okay," he murmured. "I promise, I won't leave you. I just want you to try and relax for me right now, all right?" She nodded. He looked over at Dr. Barnett then the nurse beside him, "let's also give her ten cc's of Versed."

"Yes, doctor," the Hispanic nurse said.

"Shhh..." MIchael hushed Amy, smoothing back her hair with his hand. "Please don't cry, honey. Everything's going to be okay, all right? I promise."

"Are you...going to operate on me or is someone else?" She murmured as Dr. Barnett put his stethoscope on and set the disc on her chest, moving it from one side to the other.

"I am. It's a pretty simple procedure, and I've done hundreds of them before. Everything's going to go smoothly. Trust me, all right?" She gingerly nodded her head, wincing at the pain throbbing through her abdomen but said nothing.

"Breath sounds are somewhat shallow bilaterally," said Dr. Barnett.

Michael looked up at the other man and sighed softly. He glanced over at the Hispanic nurse, who, had just hung up the phone on the wall. "Nicole, what's the status on that ultrasound?"

"It's on it's way, doctor," she replied.

He sighed softly, looking down at Amy's woeful face and running his fingers through his hair. "We're running out of time. I don't think we can wait any longer."

"No..." Amy whimpered, shaking her head.

"Yes, honey...we need to get that appendix out as soon as possible, otherwise you could die. I won't let that happen."

"Can't you just give me some medicine and wait till tonight or something? Just stall it for as long as you can." A couple more tears trickled down her cheeks, her head shaking back and forth. "I don't want to go right now, please..."

Michael scowled, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Honey, please, don't fight me on this."

"No, don't fight me on this, Michael. It doesn't hurt as much anymore. In fact, I think the pain is actually going away a little." Okay, so that wasn't entirely true. It might not hurt as much as it had earlier, but it still throbbed mildly. Still, what Michael didn't know wouldn't hurt him, well, at least in her mind.

He exchanged a look with Dr. Barnett and sighed deeply.

"It's your call, Dr. M," he told Michael. "What do you want to do?"

Amy met Michael's gaze, her head shaking slowly from side to side. "Please, Michael..." She murmured, the tears welling up in her eyes. "I'm old enough to decide for myself. I'll be okay. Can't we just wait till tonight?"

Michael let go of her hand and rose to his full six-foot height, running his fingers through his hair and crossing his arms firmly over his chest. He glanced up at the heart monitor then at the other machine monitoring her blood pressure and pulse ox. "All right, all right," he said, rubbing his forehead and looking across the gurney at the two nurses and Dr. Barnett. "Let's admit her. I still want that ultrasound done as soon as possible, and let's continue to give her Morphine doses for the pain."

"Yes, doctor," the petite, attractive, blonde-haired and green eyed nurse nodded.

"Thank you," Amy mouthed up at Michael with a tight smile.

Setting his left hand above her head, he leaned down until they were eye level with one another, a sheepish smile crossing his face. "You are really stubborn, you know that?"

She chuckled softly. "Yeah, but you still love me for it."

He let out a chuckle of his own, gently nodding his head. "I do. I just hope I don't regret this decision."

"I'll be fine until later tonight, I swear," she assured him.

"I should get changed," he told her, nodding towards the trauma room doors.

"It's not time yet, though."

"I know, but now that I have a patient to attend to," he said with a smirk as he gently smoothed back her hair. "I think it's better that I look professional, well, at least to the rest of the staff on call around here. Plus, it'll save me some time later when I scrub in to perform your surgery. Besides, I thought you liked me in my lab coat."

A flush rose up into her cheeks, her heart beating a little faster at the image he put in her head. "Are you trying to cheer me up?" She asked with a half-smile.

"A little," he glanced up at the monitor then down at her with a soft smile, "and from what I can see, it looks like it's working."

She rolled her eyes. "Okay, go get changed, Doc."

"I'll do that," he said, leaning in and pressing a kiss to her forehead. Gently pulling away from her, he took a couple steps towards the trauma room doors, then paused to glance back at Dr. Barnett. "Hey, take care of her for me, all right?"

"You got it, dude."

Amy looked down the length of her body, watching sadly as Michael turned and left the room, leaving her alone with Dr. Barnett and the two nurses, who, watched her changes and examined her closely. She looked around at the three of them anxiously, wanting to be there less and less by the minute, wishing that she had just kept this to herself. Yeah right, keep it to herself? Not when Michael was around. He had a sixth sense about these kinds of things. One little "ouch" was all it took to get his physician instincts working overtime.

"So, how long have you and Dr. Brentwood known each other?" Dr. Barnett asked, taking her wrist in his hand and staring down at his watch.

"A...a few years, maybe," she replied. "Three or four. You?"

"About two years. He's a great guy, isn't he? One of the best doctors I've ever had the pleasure of working with."

"He is," she agreed. Sighing wearily, she pushed herself up to her elbows, leaning in a little closer to him and lowering her voice. "Hey, do you think you could do me a huge favor?"

He glanced down at her with a soft smile. "Okay, and what's that?"

"I have fourty dollars outside in my car. Do you think you could just send me home with some medicine? I can give you the money tomorrow. Just please, get me out of here before Michael comes back."

His eyes narrowed suspiciously, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Are you trying to buy me off?" She smiled sheepishly. "Do you want me to get fired?"

"No, I just..." She scowled deeply. "I hate hospitals, and as much as I love Michael, I can't be here. I'm old enough to refuse treatment, but I can't tell him that, because he'll do everything and anything he can just to make me stay."

Dr. Barnett sighed deeply, shaking his head. "Sorry sweetie, but I can't do that. Michael's my boss, but more than that, he's also my friend, and he's your friend. If I let you go, it could jeopardize both of our relationships with him, but especially mine. You're going to have to ask him yourself, but in my medical opinion, you really should let him take that appendix out. This isn't something that you should..." His voice trailed off as Michael entered the room, clad in his long white lab coat, his black stethoscope draped over his shoulders.

"Hey," he said. "How's my favorite patient doing?"

Amy's shoulders slumped in defeat, a woeful sigh escaping her, feigning a small smile as he came to her side. "I'm okay." Pushing herself all the way up to a sitting position, she swung her legs over the side of the gurney, "actually, I'm better than okay, I'm feeling so much better. I think I can go home now." She was about to hop down off of the gurney, but Michael set both of his hands firmly on her shoulders, keeping her from doing so.

"Whoa. Hold on, hold on," he argued. "I thought we agreed you were going to stay and let me take out that appendix."

"I know, I know I did. I just...forgot that I have other plans tonight. I have to work."

He blinked, his brows furrowing inquisitively. "What? You told me you had the day off today." He sighed softly. "I know you're lying to me, Amy. I can see it in your eyes. Why are you lying to me? Because you don't want me as your doctor, or because you're scared about the operation?"

"No, I want you as my doctor, always."

"Then it's the operation." He brought his right hand up to her cheek, brushing a few loose strands of hair out of her face and tucking them behind her ear. "Honey, I told you, I don't know how many times already that everything's going to be all right. I'm going to take good care of you. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about." He rubbed his hand soothingly against her shoulder. "Just lie back down, all right?" He started to ease her back down, but she pushed against him, making it difficult to do so.

"No, Michael, I really want to go."

"I think you should do as he says and lie back down." Dr. Barnett insisted. "We're just trying to take care of you, all right?"

"Do you need some assistance, Dr. Brentwood?" The hispanic nurse asked.

Amy shot a glare over at her, having a feeling she would probably restrain her or drug her if she got out of hand, but she was old enough to make her own decisions. She would sue the woman if they held her against her will.

"No, Nicole, thank you. I can handle this myself." He brought his determined gaze back to Amy, "honey, please...you need to have this operation. I wasn't kidding about what I said before. Without it, there's a very large chance that you could die. You need to stay. I don't know how to make it any clearer to you."

Her bottom lip quivered, the tears welling up in her eyes. "I don't wanna stay," she murmured. "Please don't make me." As her voice shook with emotion, Michael wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her into his loving embrace. Clinging to him much like a frightened child, she buried her head in his shoulder, sobbing softly.

"Shhh, shhh..." He hushed her, rubbing his hand against her back in reassurance. "It's okay. It's going to be all right."

"The ultrasound is here," said Nicole, breaking the quiet as a technician rolled the machine inside.

"Okay," Michael replied. "Thank you. Honey..." he looked down at her, brushing her hair out of her face, "why don't you lie back down for me, all right?"

She shook her head, sniffling softly. "I don't want to."

"It's just for a minute, okay?" As much as she really didn't want to, she let go of him and allowed him to gently ease her back down against the gurney. He brought the ultrasound machine over, "I'm just going to take a quick look at your appendix, all right?" Lifting her shirt up, he squeezed a bottle of gel onto it in a circular pattern. Taking the white plastic wand in his hand, he pressed it firmly against the lower right side of her abdomen as he stared at the ultrasound screen, making her wince and groan painfully. "I'm sorry, honey. It'll only hurt for a minute. Just try and relax." He sighed softly. "All right, let's see what we've got going on here."

She shut her eyes tightly, biting down on her bottom lip. "Please hurry, Michael."

"I will, honey, just try and hang in there...oh yeah, looks like we've got an acute appendicitis. We're definitely going to have to operate right away."

"Right away?" Amy asked, lifting her head and looking up at Michael in astonishment. "Michael! You said we could wait!"

Dr. Barnett sighed. "She doesn't take too well to authority, does she?"

Amy shot a glare at him. "Not to doctors, no."

Michael sighed deeply, pulling the wand away from her stomach and returning it to the machine. Picking up a towel, he wiped the gel from her stomach and looked down at her sadly. "Honey, the sooner we get this taken care of, the better. We can wait a few hours, but the surgery has to be done tonight."

"Late tonight maybe?"

Michael shook his head. "Well not too late."

"Just as long as it's not right away. I don't want to get the operation right now. Give me some pain medicine for a few hours if you can. Just not now."

Michael sighed softly. "Does that mean you're not going to leave A-M-A?"


"Against medical advice."

"Oh." She heaved a deep sigh, running her fingers through her hair. "If I have to," she grumbled.

"You have to. I'm admitting you and that's final." Lifting his stethoscope from behind his neck, he put the tips in his ears and set the disc on her chest, listening intently to her heart and lungs.

"BP's starting to come back up," Dr. Barnett remarked. "One ten over seventy."

She rolled her eyes, an escape plan suddenly forming in her head. Maybe there was another way out of this, but could she pull it off? That was the thing. There was only one way to find out. He might get pissed at her for it later, but he'd get over it...eventually.

"Good breath sounds bilaterally." Michael said, removing his stethoscope and draping it over his shoulders. He took her chart from the nurse on the opposite side of the gurney, nodding his thank you as he turned to assess the other monitors. Pulling a pen from the breast pocket of his lab coat, he clicked the top with his thumb and made a few notations on her chart, his brows furrowed in thought.

"I'll notify the OR for you," offered Nicole.

Michael glanced up at the woman and nodded in regard. "Thank you. Let's also try and move her up to a room and get her gowned as soon as we can, please." Amy exhaled sharply, looking up at Michael and shaking her head in disbelief.

"Yes, doctor."

"She's not too fond of hospitals, is she?" Dr. Barnett asked with a smirk.

"No she is not," Michael replied with a chuckle, glancing from the other man down to Amy. "She's pretty stubborn, but as long as I've been taking care of her, I've kinda gotten used to it." He sent her a wink before going back to her chart.

Amy scoffed, staring up at the ceiling. "Only because I hate feeling like a lab rat."

"Well, that's kinda unavoidable in this place," said Dr. Barnett.

"Yeah, I know. Can I go now?"

Michael abruptly stopped writing and looked down at her, sighing sadly, a somber, almost paternal expression on his face. "Amy..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know." She groaned. "It was worth a shot."

"Michael's a tough negotiator, Amy. Once his mind is made up, trust me, there's no reasoning with him," Dr. Barnett remarked, exchanging a laugh with him.

Amy rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "Tell me about it."

"She's the same way," Michael implied.

"Well there's your conflict then," Andrew told him.

The other nurse came to the side of the gurney and handed Amy a gown, telling her to put it on. She looked warily at the woman, "now? Here? Can't I get a little privacy?"

"Of course, honey." Michael looked up at Dr. Barnett and the two nurses, nodding his head in agreement. The three of them walked off in the direction of the trauma room doors, Michael tugging on a curtain to shield the gurney from view and give her her privacy to change.

Pushing herself up to a seated position, she looked down at herself, partially tempted to rip off the leads to all the machines she was attached to and walk out of there, but she knew with Michael standing on the other side of that curtain, along with three other people, it wouldn't be possible. Their combined strength to hold her and strap her down to the gurney would put her at a disadvantage. It wasn't like she could use one of the side doors to escape either, the curtain only reached as far as the gurney. "Shit," she cursed softly. "I so don't want to be here." After removing her bra, she slipped into the gown then removed both her shoes and jeans. She swung her legs over the side of the gurney, looking down at herself with a disgusted scowl, a shiver dancing down her spine. "Okay, I'm done," she told them.

Pulling back the curtain, Michael, Dr. Barnett and Nurse Nicole returned to her, the other nurse having left the room already. The nurse offered to take her clothes and shoes. She gave them to her and watched her put them into a clear plastic bag marked: "patient belongings." Michael reached out, placing his hands on her upper arms, "why don't you lie back down for me, honey, all right?" As much as she really didn't want to, she allowed him to ease her back down on the gurney. "Lie back down."

She shivered once again, her teeth chattering as she looked up at Michael with pleading eyes. "Can I have a blanket?"

He nodded his head, his brows furrowing in concern, "of course, honey." Michael looked to Nicole, who, nodded in understanding, getting the message loud and clear, and left the room to get her a blanket. Pressing the back of his hand to her forehead, he scowled deeply, glancing up at Dr. Barnett then down at her chart. "Did you or the other nurses check her temp yet?"

"The last time I checked, it was one hundred and one." He said, handing Michael a handheld machine.

Michael thanked him, slipping a fresh probe cover onto the thermometer and telling Amy to put it under her tongue. She did as he told her to and he removed it a few seconds later, a deep sigh escaping him. Picking up her chart, he made a notation but said nothing.

"Let me guess, I'm dying," she said.

He looked up suddenly, his brows drawing together inquisitively. "What? Oh, no, honey, of course not." He reached out, smoothing her hair away from her forehead. "You've just got a pretty high fever, that's all, but we're going to keep running fluids through your IV and pushing meds every couple hours. It should help to bring it down, and as soon as we get that appendix out, you should start to feel much better, all right?" He smiled reassuringly down at her. She feigned a small smile, gently nodding her head before he leaned in, her heart skipping a beat as he pressed a kiss to her forehead.

Nurse Nicole entered just then with a light blue knit blanket. Michael thanked her and proceeded to cover Amy with it, tucking it in around her.

"Is that better?" He asked softly, looking intently down at Amy.

She nodded her head, resting her hands on top of it. "Yeah...thanks."

"We should be able to move her up now," Nicole informed him.

"All right, let's go." After unhooking her from the blood pressure and pulse ox machine, and instead, hooking her up to a stationary monitor, both Michael and Dr. Barnett yanked the metal bars up on the side of the gurney and rolled her out of the room. "You're going to be okay, honey, all right? We're just going to move you up to a room."

"I'm not a child, Michael," she insisted, looking up at him as the white florescent ceiling lights passed above his head. "I know what's going on."

"She's a little fiesty too, isn't she?" Dr. Barnett remarked, looking from Amy and across at Michael with a light laugh.

He chuckled softly. "She is," he glanced back down at Amy. "I know you're not a child, Amy. I was just trying to reassure you."

She sighed wearily, shutting her eyes and remaining quiet. If she wasn't hooked up like a lab rat, she might actually be able to enjoy the ride down the busy hospital halls, on the elevator and up to her room, which they decided would be on the seventh floor, room 7-D.

"Can't you just be like Leo from 'Charmed' and heal me already so I can get the heck outta here," Amy inquired as she climbed down from the gurney and onto her hospital bed.

Michael chuckled softly, "I'm trying to, honey, but it's going to take some time."

"Time?" She said incredulously as she slipped under the covers of the bed. "It takes three seconds to heal me, all you have to do is hold your hand over my stomach and this appendicitis will go away."

"Maybe we'd better call for a psych evaluation or at least an M-R-I," Dr. Barnett suggested, much to Amy's horror, as he hung her IV bag on the rod next to the bed, then helped Nurse Nicole hook her up to the heart, blood pressure and pulse ox monitors.

"Oh no you didn't," she argued, shooting a glare at the other guy then at a suddenly amused Michael. "Michael!"

"That won't be necessary, Andrew. Thank you," he chuckled softly. "Its sort of this on going joke we have, actually. She compares our relationship to that of Leo and Piper on this show Charmed."

Dr. Barnett tucked the nasal prongs, that lead to the room's oxygen tank into Amy's nostrils then stepped back, looking up at Michael with a wry smirk. "I never watch the show, but I'll take your word for it."

Michael smiled softly. "Trust me, she's not crazy. Depressed? Yes. Crazy? Never."

Amy's heart warmed at his words. "Gee, thanks Michael, I guess." A light laugh escaped her.

"I didn't mean that in a bad way, honey."

"All done, doctor," said Nicole, stepping away from the bed.

"Thank you, Nicole," he nodded in regard then turned to Andrew and did the same, "and thank you to you too, Andrew, I'll take it from here."

"Yes, doctor." Pivoting on her heels, Nurse Nicole joined Dr. Barnett, helping him push the gurney out of the room.

"Be nice to Dr. Brentwood, sweetie," Dr. Barnett remarked, glancing back at her with a wink and a smile. "He's a good guy, and he's one hell of a doctor."

Michael looked down at his feet with a sheepish smile, his cheeks flushing bright red bashfully. "Thank you, Andrew."

"No problem, Dr. M."

Amy sighed wearily, rolling her eyes towards the ceiling and crossing her arms over her chest. "Well, now that we're finally alone, I've got forty bucks in my wallet out in the car, you can have it if you just-"

Michael sighed deeply. "Amy..."

She made a face, "...What?"

A ghost of a smile crossed his face. "Are you trying to get out of your operation again? By bribing me this time?"

She bit down on her bottom lip, looking awkwardly down at her hands. "Well...maybe, kind of. I bribed Dr. Barnett too but he wouldn't take the money." She laughed nervously.

Michael scowled, setting her chart on the bed table at the foot of the bed then moving into the empty space next to her. "Amy, please don't fight me on this. I'm telling you, this is serious. You really need this operation. I told you, I'm going to be right there with you, and when you wake up, I'm going to be there too."

"You promise?"

"I promise. You're going to be fine. You're going to pull through this."

"Why won't you heal me, Leo? Are the elders preventing you from it?"

A smile tugged at the corners of Michael's mouth. "Honey, I would heal you if I could, you know that, but this time, I have to wait just a little while longer. The elders won't let me interfere. Well, not just yet anyway."

In her best Piper "imitation," Amy replied, "interfere with what? Saving your wife from surgery?"

Michael sighed deeply, "I'm sorry, honey. When the time is right, I promise, I won't hesitate to heal you."

"If they won't let you do a simple thing, then what the hell good are they?" She asked, rolling her eyes irritably, the two of them immediately exchanging a laugh. She sighed softly. "Did you call Phoebe and Paige yet? To let them know I was here?"

"Not yet, but I will. And by Phoebe and Paige, I'm assuming you mean Courtney and Zack, right?" His lips curved up into a smirk.

"Yes, well, just Courtney, Zack's probably busy at work."

Michael nodded his head in understanding. "Got it. I'll give her a call when I get a chance."

"Thank you."

"Of course. So, how you feeling? Any better?"

"I'd be better if I was at home, in my own bed, and not hooked up to all these machines like a freak."

"I know, honey, but it's only for a couple of days, and it's standard procedure. We have to monitor you at all times in the event that something were to go wrong. Come on, you've been through this numerous times before, you know that." He reached out, placing his hand on top of hers and giving it a reassuring rub.

She rolled her eyes and nodded. "Yeah yeah, I know, I know. Hey, can you do me a favor?"

"Sure, anything, unless it involves getting you out of here again, which you know is not going to happen. Not while you're under my watch."

A scoff escaped her lips. "Whatever Michael. Anyway, I wasn't going to ask that. I was going to ask you to bring me my iPhone from my car. I'm going to be bored out of my mind without all my apps to keep me entertained."

Michael sighed deeply. "I would if cell phones were allowed on patient floors, which unfortunately, they're not, but if you need to make a call, you can use the phone right there by the bed," he told her, gesturing to the white phone on the end table to her left.

Her eyes narrowed in vexation. "I'm really hating being here more and more by the minute."

"Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, but you need to be here."

"Yeah yeah, you keep saying that. Just..." She brought both of her hands up to her head, groaning irritably, "enough already!"

Michael blinked, clearly taken off guard by her outburst. An awkward silence fell between them. The only sounds in the room came from the rhythmically beeping heart monitor and the quiet hiss of the oxygen tank.

After a few long seconds, she looked up at him and scowled. "I'm sorry. I just..." She shook her head. "After all this drama, I think I just need to be alone right now."

He gently nodded his head, glancing down with a scowl. "I understand." Running his fingers through his hair, he rose to his feet, grabbing her chart from the table. "I'll uh...I'll check up on you a little later, when it gets closer to your surgery."

She nodded in understanding, averting her gaze to her lap but said nothing.

"Get some rest, honey." And with that, he turned and walked out of the room.

She turned her head, her heart constricting painfully in guilt as she watched him depart. This wasn't the first time she had blown him off in such a frustrated manner. She blamed it on the hospital not on him. Whenever they were in this environment and she was his lab rat, her vexation tended to run a little higher and their relationship could get a little touchy. She'd rather be any place right now besides here, even at the dentist. She had conquered that fear years ago, but her tolerance for doctors and hospitals was still very little, and her paranoia even greater. Sure, Michael had a way with her when it came to examining her and she allowed him to do so on a regular basis, but in the privacy of his own home, not in a public medical office or hospital where she was around other doctors, nurses, and anxiety inducing equipment.

Grabbing the phone from beside the bed, she pressed "nine" then dialed Courtney's cell phone number. She answered on the third ring.

"You better tell me some good news, Michael," she said, her voice filled with concern.

A soft chuckle escaped Amy. Everyone who knew Michael, especially Zack and Courtney, knew that if a call came from the hospital, this hospital in particular, it had to be from him and someone they knew had to be seriously hurt. "This isn't Michael, it's me."

"Oh, hey girl...wait, why are you calling me from the hospital?" She sighed deeply. "What happened?"

"I have an appendicitis and I need an operation, least that's what Michael said."

It took Courtney a few long seconds to find her voice. "Oh my god..."

"But I'm getting out, and I need your help."

"Wait, what? What do you mean you're getting out? Please tell me you're not thinking what I think you're thinking."

"I'll give you forty bucks if you'll help me bust out of here."

"Forty bucks?" Courtney asked incredulously. "You want to pay me forty bucks to help you escape? Michael will kill me! Okay...well, not literally, obviously, he's too much of a sweetheart to do that, but he's going to hate me for sure."

"He'll get over it. He always does, you know that. Just, bring me an extra set of clothes, some shoes, and come up to my room. I'm on the seventh floor, the second room on the left side of the hall. You should get here before eight because they'll probably want to make my surgery around that time."

"I don't know about this. What will happen if you don't get that operation?"

There was a long silence from her end of the phone. "Nothing," she finally replied.

"Amy...what will happen if you don't get that operation? Will you...you won't die, will you?"

"No!" Amy cried. "Of course not. It'll still hurt, but I'll be fine."


"I'm not lying, Court. Look, he said I could hold out a few more days or maybe a week. I don't need to have the surgery today, but he wants to do it today and I'd rather wait. He won't understand if I try to explain it to him." She sighed softly. "You have to do this for me, Court. Please?"

After a few long seconds, Courtney exuded a deep sigh. "You owe me big time."

"Forty bucks, it's yours."

"I don't want your money. You don't have to pay me. I'll settle for lunch, or a skirt or something, or better yet, the next time I have a big favor, you can help me break some rules too."

The two of them exchanged a laugh. "Deal. Okay, so do you remember what I told you?"

"Yeah, a new set of clothes, shoes, seventh floor, second door on the left."


"One question," said Courtney.


"Do you really think Michael won't find out about this?"

She bit down on her bottom lip, her gaze shifting towards the door. "No. I know he will, one way or another, but there's gotta be alternate exits in this place. If I look like a patient in a hospital gown, they'll probably stop me, but if I look like an ordinary person, they won't even turn their heads."

"Good point, but if Michael sees you he will."

"Or Dr. Barnett, maybe Nurse Nicole. I didn't think about them."

"Okay, you lost me."

"They helped take care of me when Michael brought me in," she replied.

"Got it." Courtney said. "So, is that it? Anything else you want me to do? Rob a bank on my way there? Pick up some crack?"

She rolled her eyes dramatically. "Courtney, stop it."

"I'm just kidding. Just trying to lighten the mood...before Michael catches you and ties you up for disobeying him."

"Well, if he was on top of me, pleasuring me, I don't think I'd bother to fight him," she said with a laugh. "But he won't, not if I can help it."

"No offense...but you're starting to sound like that scumbag ex-boyfriend of yours."


"Yeah." Courtney exuded a deep sigh. "The things I do for you, girlie, I swear. If Michael gets pissed at me, I'm going to tell him this was all your idea."

"Fine, go ahead. Just come and get me out of here, please."

"I'll-ugh, shit. Hang on a minute, I got another call."

"Okay." Amy sighed softly as the line went silent, waiting patiently for her friend to return.

"You still there?" Courtney asked a few minutes later.

"Yeah. Who was it?"

"Who do you think it was?"

Amy knew that teasing tone and found herself rolling her eyes. "Let me guess...Michael."


"Oh god Court, you didn't tell him, did you? About our escape plan or that you were coming over?"

There was a long hesitation from her end, and she almost thought she had hung up, except she could still hear her breathing. "No, but guess what he told me. He told me that this appendicitis you have, requires immediate surgery and that if you don't get it taken care of now, you'll die, is that true? Were you lying to me?"

"Don't listen to anything Michael says," she insisted. "He doesn't know what he's talking about. He's just trying to get you worried over nothing."

"He's a doctor, Amy, and it's not nothing. You need to stay there and get this operation. I don't want anything to happen to you."

"No! Court! Please! I need your help."

"I am helping you. I'm keeping you there so that Doc Michael can keep you alive."

"You know what, Court? Just forget it. I don't know why I bothered asking you to begin with."


Before she could say anymore, Amy hung up on her and slammed the phone back down on the end table, sinking down in bed and crossing her arms over her chest. Stupid Michael! Stupid Courtney! Screw them! If Courtney wouldn't help her, she'd have to do it all herself. The saying still rang true. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. "Screw this," she grumbled, grabbing the nasal tube and pulling it down, out of her nostrils and setting it aside. She ripped the blood pressure cuff from her arm, removed the plastic clip from her index finger and pushed herself up to a seated position. Looking down at the IV in her hand, she bit down on her bottom lip, taking hold of the line running into her arm and shutting her eyes, wincing painfully as she tugged it out, holding her lightly bleeding hand for a few long seconds, her eyes shifting towards the door then the heart monitor beside her. She knew once she removed herself from that, the nurses would know something was wrong. They had a whole bank of monitors at the nurses station to keep track of the patients on her floor, including her.

But what would she wear? Where were her clothes? Maybe under the bed? Leaning over the bed, she cocked her head to see if she could find her clothes.


Shit! Where would they be? Did one of the bitch nurses have them? Did Michael? The last time she was there, he kept her things in his locker for safe keeping. Had he taken her clothes too? Damn it! I guess it was "rip and run." Maybe she could hide somewhere until they gave up searching for her, or until the coast was clear to move again. If she could find a storage closet with some clean scrubs, she could change into them. It would sure be nice to know what time it was, but she knew that the longer she waited, the closer it would get to her surgery. She had to go now. Saying a silent prayer in her head, she pulled back the covers and stood up, the floor cool against her sock covered feet. The heart monitor beeped rapidly as her heart pounded anxiously in her chest.

Okay, she could do this. Just rip and run, right? She took a breath and quickly ripped the probes from her chest, dashing out of the room as fast as her feet could carry her, nearly slipping and falling down as she ran into the patient room next door. She waited just inside the door for a few long seconds, her heart pounding anxiously at the sound of running footsteps, followed by animated and panicked voices nearing closer. Shutting her eyes, she said a silent prayer that they wouldn't find her. Taking a quick peek around the corner, she saw a group of three nurses rush inside her room.


Rushing out of the room, she sprinted down the hall until she came to a door marked: "STAIRS." Without so much as looking back, she pulled the door open and quietly shut it behind her, which wasn't easy considering it was one of those heavy doors with a release bar, but she sure as hell tried. She stood there for a few long seconds, debating whether or not she should keep running or stop to hide somewhere, but where could you hide in a stairwell?

Just go! Go!

Trusting her instincts, she jogged down the concrete stairs as fast as Dorthy in The Wizard of Oz when she, her dog Toto, The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, and The Scarecrow had when they were set on escaping from The Wicked Witch's castle. The words of The Scarecrow echoed in her mind, driving her closer to determination, "hurry, we've got no time to lose." Unfortunately, all that running took far more out of her than she realized. By the time she reached the fourth stairwell, she had to stop for a minute to catch her breath, practically gasping for air. God, she could really use that oxygen tube right now. After a few minutes, she kept going, taking the last three sets of stairs slower than the others. Unforunately, by the time she reached the last set of stairs, a sharp pain surged through the right side of her belly, stopping her dead in her tracks. Grabbing her side with one hand, she leaned against the wall with the other, moaning and wincing painfully.

"Oh god, not now..." She murmured, glancing up at the stairwell above, half-expecting the nurses to come charging down it, or one of the doors to fly open from somewhere else and hear them coming...but nothing happened.

Letting out a breath, she hadn't realized she was holding in, she dropped herself onto one of the steps and hugged her stomach, leaning forward and pressing her forehead against her knees. She shut her eyes tightly, moaning continuously and praying the pain would subside. After almost five minutes, she found the strength to rise to her feet again and continue down the steps, her side still throbbing, but the pain not as sharp as before. She went slowly, carefully, one step at a time, until she stepped down off the last step and approached the ER unit door. Pressing both of her hands against the release bar, she slowly pushed it open and peeked her head around it, a highly concerned and familiar voice stopping her one foot into the hall.

"And you're sure she wasn't in any of the other patient rooms? Not even in the bathroom?"

Quickly ducking behind the door, Amy cringed. Michael. Shit! Word traveled fast around this place, didn't it? And he knew her so well, didn't he? He figured she'd hide in the bathroom.

"The nurses are checking all the bathrooms right now," Dr. Barnett replied. "With the kinda pain she had earlier, trust me, she couldn't of gone far. We'll find her, don't worry."

"Well, she's definitely not going to go very far at all with a ruptured appendix. I know that much. God, I don't know why she has to be so stubborn. This is all my fault."

Her heart constricted at the sadness and guilt in his voice, a cloud of guilt twice as big as his looming over her head just the same.

"Hey, this isn't your fault man," Dr. Barnett reassured him. "You didn't do anything wrong. You were just trying to help her."

"Yeah, and look how far that got me." Michael sighed deeply. "We're running out of time. The longer it takes to find her, the greater the chances are of a rupture, and if that happens..."

"I know," Dr. Barnett replied.

A sharp pain abruptly surged through her belly, causing her to quickly grab her side, biting down on her bottom lip in an effort to hold back her groan. Stepping back into the stairwell, she let the door fall shut behind her, grabbing her side with both hands and leaning her back against the wall, her eyes falling shut as she slid down onto the floor.

Shit, shit, shit...please go away. Please!

"Michael..." She moaned softly, biting down on her bottom lip. "God, why didn't I listen to you?" Opening her eyes, she slowly turned her head to look up at the ER door, wishing she had the power to move it with her mind so she wouldn't have to get up with the pain in her stomach. But in her pretend Charmed word, she was Piper, with nothing more but the power to freeze and blow things up. God, why couldn't she be Paige right now? She could orb herself back to her room.

She stayed there on the floor for all of five minutes, moaning and hoping the pain would subside, praying for it, but it refused to falter. Finally, throwing all caution to the wind, and her plan out the window, she used the wall to slowly push herself up to her feet and threw herself at the door, disengaging the release bar and slipping out into the hall of the ER unit. Looking around frantically, Michael and Dr. Barnett were nowhere to be found.

Shit. She had waited too long. They were probably looking for her right now. Damn.

Staggering across the hall towards an exam room, she pulled the door open and limped, doubled-over towards one of two empty gurnies. Slowly and cautiously, she managed to slide herself up onto it and lie down, staring up at the ceiling for a few long seconds before grabbing her side, wincing and groaning at the ever-growing pain, breathing heavily as she fought to catch her breath, having pushed herself to her physical limit. "I'm sorry God, I'm so sorry..." Tears welled up in her eyes as she started sobbing softly. "Oh Michael, I'm sorry too. This was a mistake, a big, stupid, stupid mistake!" She sniffled softly, shaking her head. "They're never going to find me..." She murmured.

Moaning and whimpering, she squirmed from side to side, hugging her stomach then forced herself to lie still, staring up at the ceiling for what seemed like hours as opposed to minutes until her eyelids unexpectedly started to grow heavy. She heard a faint and somewhat familiar male voice off in the distance, but her mind told her to ignore it.

"Michael! I found her!"

A muffled sound of running footsteps followed until two familiar but somewhat fuzzy faces came into view, hovering over her.

"Amy? Amy! It's Michael! Can you hear me?" He shouted, placing his hand on her forehead. Reaching into the breast pocket of his lab coat, he pulled out a pen light, lifting one her eyelids and shining the bright light into each one of her pupils. "Stay with me, honey, all right? Just stay with me! Pupils are mid-range and sluggish."

"Looks like she yanked out her IV, her hand's bleeding," Dr. Barnett remarked.

Amy blinked, opening her eyes wider as she felt a cuff tighten around her left arm. She opened her mouth to speak, but her voice was so faint, she wasn't sure she had even spoken at all. "Michael...it..."

"Yes, I'm here, honey. I'm right here." He lifted her gown, quickly attaching numerous probes to her chest then glancing up at the rapidly beeping heart monitor. "I'm going to take good care of you, all right?" He looked up at Dr. Barnett across from him. "What's her BP?"

"Eighty over sixty, her pressure's dropping," he replied, glancing back at the machine beside him. "Sats are down to eighty!"

Michael ran his fingers through his hair. "Damn it. Okay, we gotta get her up to the OR now!" Two nurses rushed into the room just then. "All right, someone get her back on an IV, give her an amp of eppy. And put her on two liters of oxygen by mask. Hurry!" The nurses and Dr. Barnett did as he told them to. The shorter and blonde haired nurse started another IV on Amy's arm, while Dr. Barnett quickly slipped an oxygen mask over Amy's nose and mouth. Taking her hand in his, Michael gave it a reassuring squeeze, looking intently down at her. "Amy, look at me, honey, all right? Keep looking at me. Keep your eyes open. Can you do that for me?"

"I don't...it hurts..." She said softly, so softly she wasn't sure whether he heard her at all.

"I know, honey, I know. We're going to get that appendix out right now, okay? Just stay with me, all right? Just a little while longer."

She gently shook her head. "I-I...I can't." The darkness was threatening to pull her in, her eyelids quickly growing heavily all over again.

"Amy! Hey, look at me! Amy! Piper!"

Her eyes snapped open at the nickname, a faint smile crossing her face. "Leo?"

"Yes, honey. It's Leo. The elders told me I could heal you now, but you need to stay awake for me first, all right?"

"IV's running, Dr. Brentwood," the nurse said.

"So is the oxygen," said Dr. Barnett.

"I'm pushing an amp of Eppy now."

Amy shut her eyes, biting down on her bottom lip and letting out a moan, pain throbbing through her stomach, darkness closing in around her. "Heal me, Leo, please..."

"I will, honey, but you gotta keep your eyes on me first," Michael told her, giving her hand a squeeze. "Piper? Piper!" Feeling a sudden burst of energy running through her veins, Amy opened her eyes and met Michael's intently concerned gaze. "You're going to be-"

"I'm..." She cut in, tears welling up in her eyes.

"What? What is it?" He asked, running his free hand over her forehead and smoothing back her hair. "Talk to me, Amy."

"I'm sorry I tried to escape. I should of listened to you. I'm so sorry."

Michael scowled deeply. "Oh, honey, it's okay. The important thing is that we found you, and that we're going to get that appendix out now." He glanced up at Dr. Barnett, "make sure the OR is prepped and ready for her surgery. Give them a call and let them know we're coming."

"Got it, doc." Turning on his heels, Dr. Barnett went to the phone on the wall and dialed a few numbers.

"Just hang in there a little longer Amy, all right?" Michael told her. "Try and relax."

"The O-R's ready, Dr. Mike," Dr. Barnett informed him.

"All right, thank you." He glanced back at Dr. Barnett then down at Amy. Taking his stethoscope from behind his neck, he put the tips into his ears and set the disc down on Amy's chest, listening to her heart and lungs.

Dr. Barnett walked around to the opposite side of the gurney, tugging the metal bar up on his side. "We ready to move her?"

"Yes." Removing his stethoscope a minute later, he placed it back behind his neck. "Good breath sounds. Lets go." Tugging the bars up on his side of the gurney, he nodded his head at Dr. Barnett, preparing to move her.

"Can I have a blanket?" She asked suddenly.

Michael looked down at her with a soft smile. "Of course, honey." He looked to Dr. Barnett who was already half-way across the room when he spoke, pulling a light blue blanket from a shelf and bringing it over. Thanking him, Michael proceeded to cover her up with it, tucking it in around her. "Is that better?"

She nodded in regard. "Thanks."

"Of course." Together, the two of them rolled the gurney out of the room, Dr. Barnett placing the IV bag on the rod above Amy's head, before they turned headed around the corner towards the elevators.

Amy looked up at Michael, noticing the blue scrubs he now donned under his white lab coat. She pulled the oxygen mask down and away from her face. "You're already changed?" She asked softly.

He looked down at her with a reassuring smile. "Hmm? What did you say?"

"You changed your clothes."

"Oh," he glanced down at himself, "yeah, I did, a little while ago actually. It's a good thing I did, huh?"

She fell quiet as they reached the elevators, rolling her inside a couple minutes later and pressing the button for the fifth floor. Michael looked down at her, smoothing her hair back away from her forehead, "how are you doing? Are you all right?"

"I don't know..." She answered in a meek voice. "I'm really scared."

"I know," he murmured, taking her hand in his and giving it a reassuring squeeze. Bringing it up to his mouth, he pressed a kiss to the top of it. "I know, but everything's going to be okay. It's a fairly routine procedure, and it shouldn't take anymore than an hour."

"But what if something goes wrong? What if I don't wake up? What if it's already too late?"

"Hey, I don't want to hear you talking like that, all right?" Taking the mask from around her neck, he gently placed back over her nose and mouth. "Nothing is going to go wrong. I'm not going to let that happen, not while you're my patient. And you're going to wake up. It's never too late. You're still talking to me, you're still conscious and you're still breathing, and that's all that matters."

"But what about...you said it would rupture."

The elevator reached the fifth floor and both Michael and Dr. Barnett rolled her out into the corridor. Michael's brows drew together questionably as he glanced back down at her. "I never said that. When did I say that?"

"I heard you, when I was in the stairwell...hiding," she feigned a sheepish smile.

Dr. Barnett feigned a look of surprise, then glanced up at Michael, as the two of them rolled the gurney down the corridor towards the OR. "She was spying on us, Doc." He shook his head with a click of his tongue and an amused laugh. "You little firecracker."

She shot a glare up at him. "I wasn't spying, I was trying to escape and I didn't want you guys to see me."

Michael nodded his head with a wry smirk. "I realize that," he met Amy's gaze, his brows furrowing in thought, "look, the only reason I said that, was because I thought we wouldn't find you in time, but we did, and everything's going to be all right from here on out, okay?"

She sighed wearily, but said nothing, her stomach knotting up, her heart pounding anxiously as they neared closer to the operating room, the rapidly beeping heart monitor drawing her attention.

Michael glanced over at it with a scowl then down at her, running his hand over her forehead. "You're going to be okay, honey," he murmured. "Just try to relax, all right? I'm going to take good care of you, I promise."

She nodded gently, but still said nothing. A minute later, they reached the operating room and Michael handed her off to the two masked scrub nurses and anesthesiologist awaiting their arrival within the spacious and brightly lit room. She reached out and called for him desperately, not wanting him to leave her side for a minute, but he quickly reassured her he'd be back soon. As much as she didn't want to, she allowed them to roll her into the operating room, waving her goodbyes to Michael and Dr. Barnett. After transferring her to the operating table, the nurses instructed her to put her hair in a hair net and strip, but she refused to do the latter, insisting that she didn't feel comfortable doing so.

They told her they couldn't operate on her until she did so, and that it was mandatory. She asked if they would at least cover up her private parts, and after being reassured that they would, reluctantly stripped out of the gown and her underwear. Holding one arm over her breasts, she held the other over her crotch, instantly feeling self-conscious, a chill dancing up her spine. They hooked her up to the numerous machines in the room, feeling comfortable enough to remove her arms when they laid a sheet and a blanket over her lower half. They also laid numerous sterile blue drapes over her breasts and lower half, but kept her abdomen exposed.

"When's Michael coming back?" She asked the man at the head of the gurney, as they hung a blue drape between her head and the rest of her body.

"Dr. Brentwood? Oh don't worry, hon, he'll be here soon. He's scrubbing up at the moment."

She scowled, and in a rather pathetic act of desperation, blurted out the first thing that came to mind, "hey, look, I've got forty bucks in my wallet out in my car. I know its not much in your profession, but you can have it if you just get me out of here."

The man's dark brows furrowed inquisitively then evened out, his large brown eyes turning somber. "I'm sorry, sweetie, but if we don't remove your appendix...you could die, and you don't want that, do you?" He set one gloved hand on her shoulder, patting it reassuringly. "Don't worry. Dr. Brentwood is a highly trained and skilled physician. He's done hundreds of these procedures before. You're going to be just fine."

"Well I don't doubt that." She mumbled. "I just want out of here."

"Ah, so you were the patient that was trying to escape earlier. That wasn't such a wise thing to do."

She rolled her eyes as they tucked an oxygen tube into her nostrils. "No shit, Sherlock," she murmured. A nurse came to each side of the operating table, positioning her arms on a slab that extended out from either side. She sighed deeply, staring up at the ceiling, shivering beneath the less than warm sterile drapes. "I want Michael, please..."

"Dr. Brentwood will be here in a few minutes," said the nurse to her left. "Just take it easy, sweetie."

She rolled her eyes. "I just want to get this over with."

Just then, a side door swung open and Michael entered, a blue surgical cap on his head to match his scrubs, and both his arms raised before him.

"Michael!" Amy cried, turning her head and looking over at him.

"Hey," he greeted her with soft smile. A nurse gave him a towel to dry his hands and arms off on, and aided him in slipping into a blue surgical gown along with a pair of rubber gloves. Finally, one more nurse came up behind him and pulled his mask up over his nose and mouth.

Amy's heart pounded anxiously as he approached the table, with nothing to reassure her other than those wide and tender hazel eyes of his.

"Hey," he softly greeted her.

"Hey," she murmured. "Is it too late to throw all this crap off of myself and escape?"

"Honey, I promise, everything's going to be fine," he gently reassured her. "I would never let anything happen to you, not as long as you're my patient."

Her bottom lip quivered and her eyes welled up in tears as she softly and rather vainly tried to plead with him. "I wanna leave, Michael, please..."

"Oh, please don't cry, honey. Look," he shook his head, "I'm sorry, but that's not going to happen. I'm not going to let that happen...not again, all right? I'm taking that appendix out and that's final."

Her eyes narrowed irritably, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth as she did her best Piper voice. "You know, if I wasn't covered up, naked, and drugged up right now, I would freeze your sorry butt."

While she couldn't see his mouth, she could still see a sudden smile in his eyes. "Actually, I'd be much more concerned with you blowing me up." He chuckled softly.

"That too."

"Don't you think we should get started, doctor?" One of the nurses asked.

Amy sighed deeply, a scowl crossing her face. Michael looked from her to the nurse then back down at her. She shook her head adamantly. "No..." She murmured.

"Yes," he said, loud enough for them to hear him. Leaning in, he lowered his voice to whisper to her, "you're going to be just fine. And I'll be right by your side when you wake up, all right?"

She gently nodded her head. "Okay...just heal me and get it over with. Elders approval or not." She feigned a small smile. The smile returned to Michael's eyes. He looked to the anesthesiologist and nodded his head in approval. The man lifted the mask.

"Do you mind if I do it?" Michael asked, holding out his hand. The man nodded his head in approval and allowed Michael to take the mask. She met his gaze as he placed it over her face, gently caressing her forehead with his other hand. "Count back from ten for me, honey."

Keeping her gaze on his, she started counting. "Ten...nine...eight..." Her eyelids grew heavy as she felt darkness pulling her in faster than she could blink an eye, Michael's face fading from her vision.