Baby's Got a Secret
AUTHOR: Ash Carroll
RATING: R for language and mild mature themes. (I'm probably being paranoid, but I like to be safe rather than sorry.) :o)
ARCHIVE: Uh, sure.
DISCLAIMER: ER and its characters are the property of John Wells and
Constant C Productions. I don't own anything except the story, and I
don't have any money either, so please don't sue me.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my third ER fic, so please excuse any glaring
errors. It's a short little piece of wishful thinking on my part; the
way I would've liked to see things turn out on the show.
DEDICATION: To my aunt who worked in the medical field and spent many a Thursday night watching ER with me: I miss you.
SUMMARY: A shocking revelation is made.
Jing-Mei Chen rubbed her neck tiredly as she lowered herself onto the couch in the on-call room. After a hellish six hours in the ER, she was ready for a break. Her feet were killing her, her back ached and all she wanted was a nice hot bath. Yeah, a nice hot bath sounded perfect; it was just the thing to get rid of all the tension and stress.
Tension and stress. Two things that definitely were not good for her baby.
She absently rubbed her swollen belly, letting her mind wander. Her due date was fast approaching and she still had yet to reveal the identity of the child's father. He had a right to know, of course, and she'd been planning on telling him. Unfortunately, he'd shipped off to rehab and she'd never gotten the chance. And now, well, he was walking the path, doing the twelve steps, and she didn't want to be the cause of him falling off the wagon.
But that wasn't her biggest problem.
No, her biggest problem would be the fact that he had been flying higher than the Concorde when they did it. She doubted he remembered anything about that night.
Jing-Mei sighed tiredly. Maybe he didn't remember, but she did. Every look, every touch, every kiss, every word spoken had been burned into her memory. She'd been so depressed, having lost a young patient. The ER had been swamped that night and she'd missed an anomaly that would have given away the proper diagnosis. He'd found her at the end of the shift and dragged her out for drinks to get her mind off of it.
It worked for a while, but by evening's end, she'd broken down sobbing in his arms. One thing had quickly led to another and they'd ended up in bed at his place. She hadn't realized he was high until the next morning when it wore off. Then he'd been sent off to rehab and she hadn't seen him until a few months ago. She was still waiting for the right time to tell him. A time when she wouldn't feel stupid saying that a one-night-stand he couldn't remember had created the child she was carrying. She didn't think there would ever be such a time.
She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of his voice, paranoid that he'd be able to read her thoughts and know at once the secret she'd been keeping from him.
"Uh, yeah," she answered, trying to regain her composure, "just tired."
"I'll bet," Carter replied, "been a long night, huh?"
She laughed slightly. "You can say that again."
He studied her for a few moments. She looked scared, like a deer caught in the headlights. "Are you sure you're okay?"
'Oh, dandy. I'm carrying your baby, but you don't remember conceiving it because you were stoned out of your mind.'
"I'm sure," she lied.
"You know what you need," he observed, "you need a good dinner. What do you say? We can grab something somewhere."
"I don't know, John. I think what I really need is to go home and go to bed."
"Not until you eat something. You're eating for two now, you know," he replied, chiding her gently.
"You're not going to give up, are you?"
He grinned. "You know what they say about us Carters."
She frowned, pretending to think. "You're pig-headed and stubborn?"
"We don't take no for an answer. And we always get what we want."
His tone was teasing, but it put her on edge nonetheless. If there was one thing she knew about John Carter, it was that he didn't know when to give up. If she wanted him off her back, she would have to go to dinner with him.
"Okay. Okay, you win," she said, surrendering. "Just give me a minute to freshen up."
She sat in the booth, pushing the food around on her plate and praying he wouldn't notice. Unfortunately, she wasn't that lucky.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Carter inquired, concern crossing his features.
She felt like crying, and it wasn't entirely due to her raging hormones. Why did he have to be so damned sensitive and caring and . . . John? She could have handled it a lot better if he were a jerk like Malucci, but he wasn't. He was John Carter. Sweet, gentle, considerate John Carter, and that made the whole situation a million times harder than it should have been.
She remembered that he was still waiting for an answer. "I'm okay, John. Just having one of those hormonal moments," she replied, managing a weak laugh.
He studied her for a few moments. The smile she now wore didn't quite reach her eyes and he could tell that she was holding something back. "Why don't you let me take you home? We can get this to go."
"It's okay, John. I'm fine."
"Hey, you might be able to fool the people at work, but I know you, Deb. Something is obviously bothering you; you're not really into this," he gestured around them. "So I'm gonna take you home, and we can talk about it, if you want."
She couldn't help thinking that even though everyone else called her Jing-Mei, or simply Chen, he was the only person who still called her Deb. It reminded her of her early days as a med student, when she and Carter competed for the ER Sub-I. She longed to go back to those days, before everything had gotten so damned complicated. She looked at him, giving her assent to his idea. Carter called the waitress over to pack up their food and then the two of them were out the door.
John observed her quietly as they sat in her living room. He wished he knew what was wrong with her. They'd once been competitive rivals, but that rivalry had turned into a strong friendship, especially in the wake of his stabbing. She had been there for him when he needed her, now he felt it was his turn. She'd decided to keep her baby, and he wondered if the prospect of single parenthood wasn't what was scaring her so. There was only one way to find out.
"You know, I'm listening if you wanna talk," he said, leaning his head down so he see her face. When she made no move to answer him, he tried a different tack. "Whatever it is, it's bothering you. If you won't talk to me about it, you should talk to someone. The stress can't be good for the baby."
She read the concern written on his face and in his eyes and wondered if maybe this wasn't her chance to tell him the truth. He was so worried about her and the baby and he didn't even know the child was his. Dare she hope for a happy ending if she revealed the truth? She would have to take her chances and find out.
"You're right," she said, as she rose from the couch and walked over to the window, turning around to face him. "There is something bothering me. It's about you."
Him? The last thing he wanted to do was stress her out. "Me? You're stressing out over me? God, Deb, why didn't you tell me before?" He shook his head. "Look, I'm fine. That last thing you need right now is more stress, so don't worry about me, okay?"
Tears threatened, but she blinked them back. He was feeling guilty for causing her stress. She took a deep breath, forging on before she lost her nerve. "John, you don't understand. This baby . . . it's . . ."
Another deep breath.
He studied her face. "It's what?"
"Yours," she whispered, her voice nearly inaudible.
John blinked in surprise. "Wh-what?" he asked, sure that he'd heard wrong.
The tears that had been threatening to fall now spilled freely down her face. "It's yours," she repeated, her voice sounding small against the dead quiet of the room.
"How? We never . . ."
His voice trailed off as a hazy memory found its way to the surface. A darkened room, moonlight through the window, tears on her face and a kiss, desperate and heated. Clothes being removed, naked bodies bathed in the glow of a silver moon. He muttered silent curses to himself. How could he have forgotten?
A look of realization passed across his face and she answered the question before he could give voice to it. "After I lost the patient," she explained, "you dragged me out for drinks . . . I didn't know you were using or I never would have . . ."
"Why didn't you tell me?!" he demanded, shock giving way to anger.
"I didn't know how! What was I supposed to say, John, 'I know you don't remember fucking me, but guess what, I'm having your baby'?"
He stopped short, surprised at her frankness. He'd never known her to curse before. Taking her words into consideration, he supposed he could understand where she was coming from. "I'm sorry, I guess that was a dumb question."
She shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. I should have told you, but I was scared and confused and I didn't know what to say."
He crossed the room to stand in front of her. She averted her eyes, but he used his index finger to tip her face up so she could look into his eyes. "Look, we can't change what happened before, only what happens now."
The initial shock had worn off and he gave her a lopsided smile. She smiled back uncertainly. He looked down at her swollen belly. She nodded, answering his unspoken question, and placed one of his hands on her stomach. John looked at her in wonder as he felt the baby move against his splayed hand.
He grinned. "So we're having a baby, huh?"
"Yeah," she replied. "He's quite the little acrobat."
Carter looked down at her. "He? It's a boy?"
She nodded, flashing him a smile. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you," she apologized again, "I-"
He put a finger to her lips. "I think we've both done enough apologizing, don't you?"
He silenced her with a kiss, different from the one that had led to their son's conception, this one was full of promise. They separated and he leaned his forehead against hers as they caught their breath.
"I've wanted to do that for months," he confessed.
She grinned. "What took you so long?"
"Any news?" Dave asked as he came up to the Admin desk.
Abby smiled over her shoulder. "Carter called down a few minutes ago. Chase Lucas Carter, 7lbs. 12 oz., 17 inches long. Mommy and baby are doing fine."
Dave shook his head. "Man, Carter with a family. I'm still gettin' used to it."
"It's kinda wierd, but they'll be fine," Abby assured him with a Chesire cat grin.
"What do you know?" Dave asked.
"Oh, nothing," Abby replied nonchalantly as she went back to notating charts.
Carter watched his son, sleeping peacefully in his mother's arms. Deb smiled up at him. "I think he looks like you."
He's definitely got the Carter mouth," John agreed, "but he has your eyes."
Deb grinned. "Let's just hope he wasn't born with your stubborn streak."
"*My* stubborn streak? What about *your* stubborn streak?" John inquired with a chuckle, then turned serious as he fished something out of his pocket.
"Close your eyes," John commanded.
Deb did as she was told, waiting for permission to open them. She didn't have to wait long. She opened her eyes, focusing on the black velvet box John was holding in front of her.
He got down on one knee and took a deep breath. "Do you know what kept me from fading, after the stabbing, when everyone was working on me?"
She shook her head.
"You. Your voice. I heard you calling to me, begging me to stick around. And then, you took care of all my patients . . . and Lucy's. You've been there for me, so many times I've lost count. I don't know what I did to deserve that, but I know that I want to spend the rest of my life taking care of you and Chase."
He held up a hand to silence her. "I love you, Deb. I want to go to bed beside you every night and wake up with you in my arms every morning." He opened the box, revealing a large, round diamond set in gold. "Marry me."
She stared at him, tears streaking out of her eyes and down her face. He was serious. He wanted to marry her. Never in her wildest imagination had she ever thought that things would end up like this. It almost seemed like a dream.
"Deb?" he asked, trying to read her.
She shook her head, remembering that he was still awaiting her answer. "Yes," she replied, laughing and crying all at the same time.
He slipped the ring on her finger, leaning in to seal the deal with a kiss. John looked down at his family and smiled. He couldn't help but think that he was the luckiest man in the world. He knew that his guardian angel must have been watching out for him.
'Thanks, Luce,' he thought, sending the silent prayer heavenward before leaning in to kiss his fianceť one more time. Somehow he knew that whatever life threw at them, they'd manage. Lucy wouldn't allow things to turn out any other way.