Authors Notes: Death of a Simpson began as a small segment in a much broader storyline that I really liked and decided to go back and flesh out. This is my first attempt at Fan Fiction so forgive me for the length. I don't know any better. I found Homer the most difficult to write for; I went for canon circa Seasons 4-6, this was a conscious decision. Otherwise it rapidly would've degenerated into the more recent "Shrieking Homer" and I think the overall quality of the story is better for it. Maggie was definitely the most interesting to write for, however, because she's pretty much left blank (exempting the future-centric episodes and her occasional affinity for firearms...). I was satisfied with the direction her characterization took and being the oldest of three boys, I'm about as far from being in her situation as possible. The rest of the characters were pretty easy to fall into because I either felt close to them emotionally or I knew someone in my life to base them off of. Watching 3-4 hours of the show almost daily might've had some influence too.
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"You are here to visit...?" She inquired politely.
"My son..." Homer said with a sadness he rarely expressed for Bart.
"He just got out of surgery, his name is Bart Simpson." Lisa told the nurse to fill in the blanks from Homer's inadequate description.
"He's right over there, bed number five. Remember to be quiet, there are a couple other patients here tonight." The woman paused and thought for a moment. "Wait, aren't you the girl I saw on the news earlier, the one who was kidnapped?!"
Yes... and I'd like to see my brother, please. Would it be alright if I brought this in?" Lisa held up her saxophone case.
"My goodness! That's your brother in there? I'm so sorry! Please, my name is Jenny. If there's anything I can do, just ask. This must be so terrible for all of you..." Nurse Jenny trailed off. Lisa looked at her sax hopefully and grinned when the woman nodded with a quick wink.
"Thank you!" Lisa turned to her family and led them into the small, three-walled cubicle labeled "#5".
Each member of the family found a place around the bed. Bart's pallid face was only just visible behind a dazzling array of tubes and wires. The symphony of machinery that surrounded them beeped and hummed seemingly with a random rhythm.
Lisa stood at the foot of the bed and couldn't help but notice, "it looks like they have already put him in a box..." She saw some seats lined up against the far wall and sat down in one, placing the saxophone case next to her.
"Oh, my special little guy..." Marge cooed and she touched his face gently with her shaking hand. "He's so cold..."
"He'll be fine, honey. Dr. Hibbert said so." Homer remarked while he gazed sadly at his son. "In the morning we can go home and things can get back to normal."
"I hope so... for all our sakes, Homey." Marge continued to fuss over Bart's limp body.
Maggie soon became frustrated with her height relative to the bed and searched for something to stand on. She spotted Lisa, sitting in a chair that caught that caught her eye, beginning to assemble her saxophone.
"You gonna to play, Lisa?" Maggie approached with her hands clutched together in front of her in an almost pleading gesture.
"A little, it'll help calm me down." Lisa stopped and regarded her sister. "You want to try?"
"Me? I've never played a musical instrument before..." Maggie looked slightly uncomfortable at the suggestion, then sad at the realization.
"You have to start somewhere. Come on, it'll be fun. I promise!" Lisa patted the hard plastic chair next to her after sliding the now-empty case underneath it. "Here, use this to keep your balance."
Maggie looked at her sister blankly, surprised at the simple kindness of the gesture. "She hasn't acted like this in ages..."
"Trust me. You'll want it, this old thing gets heavy." Lisa continued making her very tempting argument.
"Okay!" Maggie folded and flung herself into the waiting chair. "What first?"
Lisa carefully showed Maggie the finer points of posture and hand placement, taking a little time for herself to demonstrate when necessary.
"My mouth and lips hurt." Maggie commented after a half hour or so. "Why don't you play for a while?"
"It takes some getting used to, but very good for a first try!" Lisa beamed at her sister. "Now... what should I play?"
After a moment of thought, Lisa nodded and launched herself into a soft, soulful song that seemed to fill the room effortlessly. No one complained, not even Homer, as she fell into the spirit of the music and started adding her own little innovations. The complexity of the piece built to a mind-numbing climax only to be broken at its peak by an unexpected voice.
"Lisa... enough sax already..." Bart mumbled from the bed.
"Bart!" Maggie grabbed her chair, threw it up against the bed and leapt on top of it. Bart's face flickered with life for a moment before he sighed and fell back to sleep. Maggie slumped into a squat, sighing heavily. "Ohh..."
"That's a good sign, angel! He's strong, just like his father!" Marge assured Maggie.
"Speaking of which, I haven't eaten all day!" Homer stared at the rest of the family, his eyes as wide as dish plates.
"Didn't they feed you in jail?" Marge asked.
"Pfft! Like I'm going to eat cornbread for dinner... oh, oops! Sorry, Lisa!" Homer glanced apologetically at his daughter. " Anyway, we should see if the cafeteria is open!"
He nearly danced out the door to ask Nurse Jenny for directions.
"Some food would be good; we should all keep our strength up." Marge followed her enthusiastic husband, with Maggie bringing up the rear.
"Coming, Lisa?" Maggie called from her place next to Marge and Homer.
"You guys go on ahead. I'm not really hungry. I think I'll play just a little bit more." Lisa held up the instrument.
"Oh, Lisa... don't push yourself too hard. This has been a very trying day for us all, especially for you. If I bring you up a salad, will you please try to eat something?" Marge searched Lisa's eyes for some indication of what she was feeling.
"Yes, if you ask specifically for a non-meat one." Lisa relented.
"Of course." Marge smiled and the three Simpsons disappeared down the hallway towards the elevators.
"Mmmm... hospital fresh..." Homer's voice echoed back to the nearly empty room.
Lisa glanced from her sax to the open door and sighed. She got up, quietly closing the door before turning Maggie's stepping stool around and sitting back down, near Bart's head.
"Hi, Bart..." She hesitated. "I wonder if you can even hear this... I... don't know what to say... where to begin..."
Lisa leaned onto the bed, propping her chin on the palms of her hands. Thinking hard, Lisa tried to find words to say what she felt had to be said. "Before it's too late." The words echoed morbidly through her head, and she found her resolve.
"I can't help but feel that what's happened to you... is somehow my fault. I knew you were right all those years ago... about Krusty...
"Please, Bart. Forgive me for being such a coward. I couldn't stand by you back then, as much as I wished I had. Just look at what happened! My pride kept me from being your only support... I was petty and foolish." Lisa fell silent for a moment.
"Remember when Grampa died? He talked about it forever, but then... he was just... gone. Dad cried like a baby for a week. It was so hard on all of us." Lisa wiped away a tear at the recollection. "It kinda feels like that, now. Only a lot more intense, you know? It's impossible to imagine a world where you aren't around. You're right here."
Lisa clasped his clammy hand in hers.
"You're still alive, in front of me. But the thought that soon, tomorrow? You might not be... is the hardest thing I've ever been asked to accept."
"I remember the good times, Bart." As she fell into her memories, Lisa looked at him, his face sunken into the pillow and layered with tubes. " Remember military school? You were there for me when I needed you the most. Or that time I was being picked on by Nelson and his friends? I remember how you stood up to them, Bart! Don't ever think otherwise! Today was no exception. When I saw you standing up to Bob... it almost felt like back then... I can never thank you enough for all you have done for me...
"I guess what I'm trying to say is... thank you for being the person that you are. I wouldn't have you any other way. What you did for me today, I will always cherish. Just... try to pull through this. Not so much for us, but for your own sake. You have so much to offer the world. Maybe not for your mind... but we need more people like you out there. Your heart won't let you sit back and watch someone suffer needlessly; I think that's why you're always getting into trouble. Even your pranks have softened over the years. Perhaps... you are finally coming to realize their futility."
She fell silent once more and leaned up to kiss him on the forehead. With a hopeful expression, Lisa got up to join her family.
"Lis..." Bart groaned, opening his eyes barely a crack.
"You're... awake?" Lisa's face burned red. "For how long?"
"Since... the sax..." Bart said with a weak laugh. "It's alright... what happened? Where's Bob?"
"He's gone, Bart... dead."
Lisa bit her lip, struggling to decide whether she should tell him the truth.
"M... Maggie shot him."
"What?" Bart shifted and coughed when he tried to sit up higher on the bed.
"She had Mom's gun, the one she keeps in her purse "for emergencies". But they can't know! I told everyone Bob shot himself. After what happened to Mr. Burns all those years ago, no one would believe it was an accident!"
Bart eyed her suspiciously.
"It wasn't." Lisa confirmed his unasked question. "She knew what she was doing. There's no denying that. But Maggie was only doing what she thought had to be done. Bob was coming for me next."
"It's... okay, Lisa. I won't tell anyone." Bart coughed again, a little more forcibly. "I'm glad it's finally over. Now... why can't I move?"
"You're still heavily medicated from the surgery."
"Surgery?" Bart's eyes widened and the heart rate monitor next to him jumped momentarily.
"Bob shot you, remember? They had to get the bullet out before it could do any more damage."
"Oh... thanks for being honest, I guess." Bart clutched at his bandaged chest. He looked up at Lisa, his eyes rimmed with tears. Seeing his expression, Lisa realized she was being rather blunt. She decided to change the subject, but the first thing that came to mind was a question she'd been refusing to ask for years. "I may never get another chance..."
"What happened to us, Bart?" The words fell out of her mouth in a low, somber cadence. Bart screwed up his eyes, trying to catch up with her abrupt reversal of moods.
"Why don't we hang out anymore? Do stuff? Like in the old days..."
Bart shifted again, his expression now showing understanding and a hint of regret.
"I've asked myself that dozens of times... I don't really know..." Bart said, suddenly serious.
"Was it something I said? Or said?" Lisa asked.
"No. I honestly think it's all been my fault, Lisa. Ever since Krusty... well, you know... died... no, was murdered..."
"He was, Bob admitted to me that he did it." Lisa said gently. Bart's eyes flashed with anger for a split second before he realized it didn't matter. At least not now, in any case.
"Thanks." Bart said sincerely before continuing his chain of thought. "I've noticed how much worse I've been to you guys lately... it sickens me to think about it."
"It hasn't been that bad. You have your good days and your bad." Lisa couldn't bear the thought of Bart trying to take all of the blame for their problems in the past. Thinking quickly, she decided to ask her original question again, phrased slightly more optimistically.
"We used to have so much fun, can thing's ever go back to the way they used to be?"
"I doubt it... too much has happened since then... we've changed so much..." Bart's eyes softened for the first time since his childhood hero had been brutally cut down. "But, maybe we could... start fresh?"
"That's a wonderful idea, Bart!" Lisa smiled spontaneously, nodding her agreement.
"I'm sorry for what I said yesterday. It was my fault you got kidnapped, not yours. If I'd just given you that stupid ride to school then... I'm sorry."
"Bart... you couldn't have known what Bob was planning. If anything, it's mine for failing to see this coming. I've been keeping an eye on him for years."
"I know. Maggie and I found your news clippings in Murphy's old album."
"How did you... know where to look?"
"Maggie... did most of the work. She found it... on your bookcase. Then pieced it all... together..." Bart's breath was becoming slightly more labored as he tried to articulate his response.
"Be careful, you're still too weak to be getting so worked up." As Lisa reached up and wiped away the sweat beading on his forehead, she noticed his skin felt hot to the touch.
"I take... it back... Lisa. You know, what... I said earlier? Your room... is definitely more welcoming... than this... place. I'm scared... Lisa..." Bart ignored her suggestion and attempted once more to sit up. His face suddenly drained of color and he began coughing uncontrollably. When he pulled his hand away from his mouth it was splattered with bright red mucus.
"That's..." Bart managed before falling limp. Around them, the machines lost their minds and started beeping erratically.
"Bart! Someone help, please! Nurse!" Lisa flew to the door and yanked it open. As she tried to rush out of the room she was pushed aside by three doctors and a handful of nurses.
"He's flat lined! Get the crash cart!" Cried one of the doctors as he checked the instruments.
"Incubating... now!" One of the nurses warned.
Lisa stared at the wild scene, numb to what was actually happening. Nurse Jenny appeared and grabbed her by the shoulder. She found herself being led down the hallway as the shouts continued to ring out.
"Prep the OR, he needs in... NOW! I must have missed a piece in his lung!" Came the booming voice of Dr. Hibbert.
"Let me through!" Reverend Lovejoy's equally baritone voice cut though the rest. "This soul needs Viaticum! He can't pass on uncleanness!"
Lisa peeked over her shoulder as the kindly nurse continued to lead her away from her brother.
"Bart!" She cried out again, renewing her attempts to return to the room.
"No! Let the doctors do their jobs! He's in the best hands this hospital has to offer! Please, just trust me!" Jenny implored the frantic young girl. Lisa stopped and tried to keep from bursting into tears as she looked up at the inexplicable woman.
"Will he be okay?"
"This is his best and only shot, pray for the best and let them work, okay?" Jenny tried to explain calmly.
Lisa gave up fighting Jenny, realizing she'd only be in the way, and started walking down the hall of her own accord.
"Where are you going?" Jenny asked.
"To find my family." Lisa replied tearfully. "Thank you for helping, Jenny. Make sure they do everything they can for him. Everything."
"I promise..." Jenny watched helplessly as the young girl fled from her worst nightmare, brought to life.
Down the hall, a set of elevator doors slid open and the other three Simpsons filed out. Homer caught sight of Lisa and his mouth turned down to match his daughter's.
"It wasn't open..." He explained.
Overhead the intercom sparked to life.
"Code blue... intensive care unit... repeat, code blue... intensive care unit."
"What's going on?" Marge gasped in alarm.
"It's Bart... he's..." Lisa could feel her throat closing again, just like earlier, but she forced it back open. "Dying..."
"Bart! No!"Marge started to run down the hall but found a large arm around her waist instead. "Let me go, Homer!"
As she struggled with her husband, the door to Bart's room flew open. Two nurses ran out, turned around and began pulling something through the entryway. Lisa realized it was Bart's bed immediately upon seeing the bleached white sheets slide out into the hall. Behind the bed came four doctors, including Hibbert, the rest of the nurses and an exasperated Reverend Lovejoy. The group began quickly making it's way towards the family as he shouted angrily.
"But it's not finished yet!"
"I'm sorry, but the operating room precedes my spiritual obligations! Rites or no rites, I have my Hippocratic Oath to uphold! Now, if you'll just calm down, you may continue on the way there. End of story, Reverend." Dr. Hibbert said severely.
"Oh, well. All right then. Now where was I?" Lovejoy scanned his book as he jogged to keep up with the fast moving group. "Ah yes, here we go. Second act of the body's Last Rites. Recite the Apostle's Creed."
With a deep breath, the Reverend began.
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord. Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried."
As the bed reached the point where the Simpsons stood, aghast in the hallway, Dr. Hibbert nodded his head and said.
"He'll be just fine, he's in good hands with these men and women. I'll be right back, just let me make sure they get him in quickly." Hibbert managed a half-hearted smile while Lovejoy continued from behind him.
"He descended into hell."
The doctors glanced at each other nervously as they finally reached the emergency staff elevator.
"The third day he arose again from the dead."
The light over their heads macabrely flashed on at the appropriate moment, just as the Reverend finished his sentence. Oblivious to the uneasy looks trained upon him, Lovejoy continued onwards as they crammed themselves into the waiting elevator.
"He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead..."
Marge turned to Lisa when the doors shut, cutting Reverend Lovejoy's cheerless monologue off.
"But he told us everything was going to be okay! How did this happen? How could he have missed something?"
"The bullet was really tiny to begin with, Mom..." Lisa said honestly. "It could happen to anyone."
"But it's happening to my little Barty!" Marge dissolved into tears and had to be held upright by Homer.
"There's nothing more we can do right now, honey." Homer consoled his wife, surprising everyone with his articulation. "Let's go back to that green room and let the doctors work their hocus pocus."
Marge steeled herself and found strength in his words to stand on her own again.
"You're right, Homey...come on girls, lets try to get some rest."
Minutes later the reentered the deserted visitor's lounge and Homer's face lit up.
"Ooh! A television! That'll help distract us!" He looked around for a remote, then sighed and walked over to switch it on manually. The familiar face of Kent Brockman filled the screen and all four Simpsons immediately noticed the poorly concealed bruising around his mouth.
"This is local anchorman, Kent Brockman, reporting live from the scene of our evening's broadcast. As we've been discussing, behind me lies the former studio of deceased funnyman and station colleague, Herschel Krustofski. Better known as Krusty the Clown. Earlier tonight we brought you coverage of the search for missing teenager, Lisa Simpson. We are happy to update her status from "lost" to "found", folks! Police were unable to comment on the fortunate rescue or on the exact happenings inside this facility, but we did manage to get some information. It is believed that escaped convict and attempted child-murderer, "Sideshow" Bob Terwilliger, was found dead inside just hours ago after police received an anonymous tip leading them to this location."
A hand appeared from off-screen and handed Kent a sheet of paper. After reading for several long moments, he shook his head sympathetically and looked back into the camera.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sorry to have to report this, but it appears that in a cruel twist of fate, young Bart Simpson, brother of the formerly missing Lisa Simpson, was admitted to Springfield General Hospital a few hours ago. His condition is described only as critical..."
"Awww... T.V."s failed me again..." Homer lamented before loosing his temper. "I'll show himcritical! Yarg!"
His foot connected solidly with the television screen and a loud "pop" followed by a steady angry hiss filled the room for a few seconds before the screen went blank.
"D'oh!" He grunted and got himself back under control.
"Is that why you were in jail, Dad?" Lisa asked her father disapprovingly. "Did you hit him?"
"He had it coming! Lousy, rotten, soul-less, good-fer-nuthin scumbag wouldn't leave us alone!" Homer huffed.
"Sit DOWN, Homer." Marge commanded, her patience wearing thin.
"Yes, dear." His expression switched to one of supplication.
"Oh, Dad... you know better than that." Lisa said, smiling slightly to cheer him up.
"Yeah... I do." Homer answered with a sly grin, then muttered. "Still worth it, though."
Maggie turned to Lisa, a confused look on her face.
"How did they know Bart was here?"
That bugged Lisa as well, but she didn't want to admit what she thought.
"You don't suppose... that nurse from earlier...?" Maggie spoke it for her. Out loud the idea sounded laughably ridiculous to her.
"No. I refuse to believe that such a nice woman would be capable of doing anything as crass as that."
"But..." Maggie looked ready to argue.
"I'll ask someone in the morning, Maggie." Lisa ended it before her sister could get herself worked up.
"Knock, knock." Dr. Hibbert appeared at the entry to the hall outside. With every eye turned hopefully towards him, he continued into the room.
"Bart's condition has stabilized and he is awaiting further surgery. I assure you all, we are doing everything we can for him." Hibbert winked at Lisa, who flushed and grinned her thanks in order to mask her suddenly guilty feelings.
"At least as long as your insurance holds out." He added. Marge gasped and he quickly added. "Kidding! I'm kidding, of course! Doctor humor. In any case, I need to get back down there. That bullet fragment isn't going to remove itself! At least it'd better not... I'll be out of a job! Wish me luck! Ah, heh, heh, heh!"
"Sometimes it's impossible to tell when he's serious... if ever." Marge murmured as the doctor hastily retreated back down the hallway. The other three mumbled somber agreements and each, in turn, fell into their own private hell.
As the minutes that passed turned into hours, Marge, Homer, Lisa and Maggie drifted off into a troubled sleep.