Bruised Hearts


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I do not know where Carter has been sent. Therefore, I chose the Rehab center to be affiliated with the Emory University Hospital. I do not know where it Atlanta that is, but in my story, that is where the action takes place.
This part is rated PG-13 for language and disturbing situations, although the entire fic is rated M14


A whirlwind surrounded Kerry for the past 24 hours. It seemed like everything was spinning around her; all of the arrangements, the favors, the questions. She was trapped in the middle with no control and with total control. Peter had returned, Luka, Mark and Chen had agreed to cover all shifts, and she had agreed to Malucci as her traveling companion -- even though she knew how he felt about her, but at the same time, especially because she knew how he felt about her.

Of course, there were a few awkward situations. Mark had certainly questioned her taking Malucci along, to to mention every other staff member she spoke to. The most awkward situation came when they found the hotel closest to where the hospital was, but there was only one room available due to some comvention. One room with one bed.

Although these things threw Kerry off balance a little, her main focus was still on John. She had gone for the past day crying on and off. When the tears shut down, she replayed the scene in her apartment over and over again. How could she have known? How did he really feel about her? Then the faucet would be turned on once again.

"Well, chief, we're here," Dave said. It had taken them about an hour to find the Emory University Hospital due to the rain. When Kerry stepped out of the rental car, the heat and humidity of Atlanta hit her. The weather was as off-kilter as her moods. The two ran through the rain and pushed open the entrance to the hospital.

It looked similar to county, except it was in a city of palm trees and souther flair. It took Kerry a moment to relize that they had wound up in the ER.

The desk clerk was a tall, heavily made up girl with mountains of blonde hair and mountains of another kind, coupled with a thick souther accent. Kerry noticed that although she spoke to both of them, her gaze was focused on Dave, and Kerry felt a twinge of jealousy.

"How c'n I help you folks?" she asked pleasantly, quite different from Amira's scowls.

They'd both agreed earlier to let Dave do the talking due to Kerry's emotional state. He spoke to the woman politely. "Hi. A friend of mine.. ours... hers arrived here to check into the rehabilitatioin program for physicians. I spoke to a guy on the phone and he said to come here first."

"Well, yeah," the girl said, smacking her gum. Kerry glanced at her name tag. Bonnie Sue. Ugh, she thought. Bonnie Sue continued, "Ah mean they're usually sent to the other wing for detox, but we like to check 'em out down here first. What's you're friends name? I call them, Mr...?"

"Doctor," Dave corrected her, almost boasting. Kerry thought for a minute that he would refer to himself as Dr. Dave. "Doctor Dave Malucci". Bonnie Sue's eyes lit up, and Kerry felt another twinge of jealousy. Dave continued nervously, "but, um... she's rally here to see him."

"Weaver.. Dr. Kerry Weaver," she said sternly in her "I am the chief" tone.

"Well, how-dee-doo! A pair of docs. Ah must say you make a mighty fine couple." Now Kerry turned beet red. She could feel her face getting hot. Seh glanced at Dave, who smiled but said nothing. He turned back to Bonnie Sue.

"She's here to see John Carter. Dr. John Truman Carter," he said, returning her previous question. Bonnie Sue picked up the phone immediately and the administrator in Kerry took over. Who ran this Emergency Department? Everything was so quick and efficient. Even around her, everyone seemed to be getting helped, no one was waiting; no one seemed impatient. As a trauma rolled in, the doctors weren't screaming or yelling. They were handling things calmly and rationally. God, she wondered, how come I didn't wind up here? Her thoughts were interrupted by that accent.

"Well," Bonnie Sue said, acknowledging them once again. "You're friends in the clinic wing of the building and yes he wants to see you, Dr. Weaver. Right now, Dr. Carter had several doctors handling his case. Dr. Rosen is the main one managing his physical pain and detoxing, and Dr. Tomsen is the head psychiatrist on his case. Annabelle said you chould have a chat with them before seeing Dr. Carter. Annabelle is the head clerk at the clinic and she'll be happy to help you."

"Thanks for all your help... Bonnie Sue," Dave said, reading her name tag.

"Bye y'all," she squeaker. Kerry wanted to Bonnie her Sue. The pair turned and headed toward the clinic wing of the hospital.

***

Carter lay there, prisoner to his own addictions. Since he'd arrived it Atlanta, he'd seen about ten different doctors. First they all talked to Dr. Benton, using about a million terms he hadn't heard since his med school psych roataion. It took about four hours of searing back pain before the psychiatrists called Dr. Rosen, realizing his pain was physical as well. By that time, he was in some little, dimly lit room hooked up to all of these IV's and machines to detox him and treat his physical pain. By then, Benton was long gone. And in came more white coats. Carter was now drifting in and out of consciousness. He was so tired. He just wanted to get out. Rip out his IV's and walk out, shoot himself up with every narcotic possible and die in the streets.

Then, he fell asleep. For the first ime he drifted off into a real sleep. It was shallow and nightmareless -- at least until a nurse named Lucy came in and happened to mention her name. To Carter's confused mind, the nightmare brought in his main doctor, Phil Tomsen. After some adjustment in the fluids flowing in his body and the addition of soft restraints, Carter fell back into the strange sleep.

It must have been hours later when he awoke again. He felt weak, but something felt different. Like something in him that had bee missing just returned. Nurse Lucy poked her head in. She was a pudgy woman with thick curly hair, which definitely helped his images.

"Dr. Carter, a Kerry Weaver wants to see you. Dr. Tomsen's willing to let it slide if you're up to it."

Kerry? Kerry had come to see him?? He thought for sure she'd never speak to him in a non-professional situation again. But here she was in Atlanta. "I'd like to see her," he responded. Nurse Lucy immediately disappeared. John could hear her shoes clicking as she went down the ahllway. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Why had she come all the way to Atlanta to see him? What was going on?

When his eyes fluttered open again, he saw her. Kerry's hair was loose for a change. It felt softly around her face, and she looked just as pretty as the night he kissed her -- even if it was under abnormal circumstances. As Kerry talked to Phil outside of the room, John noticed someone else. He shut his eyes tight and opened them again in disbelief. It was Dave Malucci. John couldn't think of any reason why Dave would be there -- and with Kerry for that matter. Finally, Kerry entered his dimly lit room, leaving Phil and Malucci shut out in the hall.

Kerry walked in slowly, her limp being especially noticeable as she relied heavily on her crutch. She bulled a chair close up to the bed and sat down awkwardly. They looked at each other for a moment. The silence continued for a million years until Kerry finally broke the ice. "You hanging in there, Carter?"

He smiled weakly. "By a thread, but I'm still in the game." Suddently, he turned serious. "Kerry, I'm afraid. I'm so scared that I'm never going to get out of her. I feel trapped -- and not just physically," he said, indicating the restraints, "but emotionally as well. My mind feels confused. I'm so tired, Kerry."

Kerry was dumbfounded. She had no idea how to react. How could she let him know he wasn't alone? It was clear tha the didn't trust Dr. Tomsen and the other psychiatrists yet or he wouldn't be telling her this. How could she help the man she loved? How could she let him know that he wasn't alone?

Kerry reached over and stroked the side of his face softly. "John," she said tenderly, "I'm here as a friend, not a doctor."

Now John was in full tears. "This will never go away, Kerry. It's gonna e here for the rest of my fuckin' life. It's never going to go away!"

This struck a funny chord in Kerry's mind. She had heard it somewhere before. Dave's voice rang clear in her head. "I had a pretty normal childhood... I was 12 years old... my dad raped me... the cuts will heal.. I still have nightmares... It'll never go away! NEVER!" The memories jolted Kerry. Maybe she couldn't help Carter open up this time, but her traveling companion could.

"John, wait one minute. I want to send someone in." Kerry left the room. Outside she saw Dave sitting in a chair, his face between his hands. "Dave, you need to tell Carter."

Dave was confused. "Tell Carter what?"

"Tell him what happened to you. Let him know he's not the only one who's haunted. And let him know that it's possible to cope and get on with your life," she pleaded. "Help him... help me."

Dave paused for a moment. Then he stared intensely into her eyes. "You know I love you, Ker. I know you love Carter. I'll do anything to make you happy." At that, Dave rose and entered the room, shutting the door behind him. Kerry hearad the lock click.

She crutched over to the large window. Although the light was bad, she could clearly see Dave talking to John, telling him about his pain and anguish. She watched John's shocked expression, and witnessed as tears began to fall from both men's eyes. Then, after a moment, Carter's lips slowly began to move. Although she couldn't make it out, she knew exactly what he was saying and Dave's understanding expressions made it crystal clear. The pantomime in front of Kerry's eyes took place for hours on end, leaving her a mere voyeur to an emotional crossing of two different people.

At one point, she could swear that the conversation had changed, but by then she was so emotionally engrossed in what she had had done, it didn't matter. She'd brought two people that she felt deeply for together -- to help each other.

Many hours later, Dave emerged sweaty and tired. He grinned at her. "that was a lot easier to do with a gallon of alcohol and a beautiful woman beside me." Kerry felt herself smile forthe first time a long time. It was nice. "He wants to see you again," Dave continued.

Kerry slowly re-entered the room. John looked better now. Different -- but this time, better. "Kerry," he said, "I want to thank you for that. Malucci probably helped me more than the zillions of psychiatrist I've seen already. I actually think I'm going to be able to do this." Kerry smiled again. John's eyes were filled with that gleam that had disappeared after the stabbing. "Kerry, I'm sorry about stealing your medication. It was wrong. I just felt so helpless, so pathetic. I felt terrible doing it."

"John, of course I accept your apology," she said tenderly, "but the kiss... I love you, John Carter." Tears welled up in her eyes and she touched his face softly.

"Kerry," he responded, "I love you too, and I wish that we could be together. Maybe someday, but not now. I need to get through this first. Straighten out my life. I'm not in the position for a relationshiip, Kerry. I'm sorry." Kerry felt her heart break, but she understood. Deep inside, she knew she couldn't be with John now

"I... understand," she said.

"Kerry, there's a guy outside that door who would sacrifice everything for you. He loves you, and believe me, I cant tell you that the feeling is mutual. You just can't let yourself accept tht you're falling for someone besides me. Kerry, don't let him get away. Don't. I took too many things for granted and look how I ended up. I care too much about you for that."

Nurse Lucy took that moment to stick her head in. "Ummm... visiting hours have been over for a while now. You'd better wrap it up."

"Well, I'm going to miss you, John. I do love you. I'll see you in a few months when you're better. I'll support you when you return to County. I promise." She kissed him lightly on the forehead. "Goodbye, John."

"Goodbye, Kerry. And don't forget what I said."

***

Dave and Kerry drove to the hotel in silence. Neither was sure what was going to happen. Finally, they arrived at their room and Kerry plopped onto the bed, leaning her crutch against the nightstand. "I'm so worn. Every muscle in my body aches," she said.

"Chief, wat did Carter say to you?" Dave asked carefully. He didn't want to be nosy, but he cared too much about her to let the quesion go unanswered. He did have a feeling what the answered would be though.

"We have to... I have to leave him alone. Let him recover. It was wrong of me to come down here thinking he'd hand me his heart. He's in rehab for Christ's sake. Do you think I'm a total nutcase?"

"No," Dave smiled.

"Then why did you come? Why did you let me come?

"Kerry," he said burning his eyes into her, "I love you. I've told you I love you, and I wanted to see you happy no matter who it was with."

Tears sprang to Kerry's eyes. It was the first time since the night she found him sitting in the rain, crying that she wanteded to find out more. Wanted to be with him.

"Dave... I... I car about you. More that I thought. What you did for me was the most amazing thing anyone's ever done for me." They were now sitting side by side on the bed. "I took advantage. I wanted something -- someone unobtainable. I've always been that way. Now here you aare right in front of me, and I was too blind to see it. Help me see it."

Dave took this as his cue. He took her face in hsi hands and kissed her gently again and again. She returned the kisses with equal passion. They were a pair of lost sould who had found each other. Both with so little in common, yet so much in common. Bruised hearts both mending. Yet now thye had found what they were looking for. Each other

***

Epilogue

"John," whispered a soft voice. Carter fluttered his eyes. He felt like shit. He had turned Kerry loose to Dave -- the man she belonged with. Tha man who gave him the courage to battle this one his own. But now he was hearing things.

"John, do you remember me?" as his vision cleared, he saw a beautiful face framed with blonde hair.

"Abby?" he asked. His hands now free of restraints, grabbed hold of hers. The last time they had been together was over three years ago, yet he still remembered the touch of her hands.

"Shh... don't speak. You need to rest," said Abby Keaton quiety. "I'm the head of pediatric surgery here. The offered me a position after my experience in Pakistan. When I heard about you, I had to see you again. I've missed you, John. I know all about you're quitting surgery to work in the ER. You weren't wasting yourself, you were using your gifts. When I heard about you and the girl, I was shocked. But I was even more shocked when I heard you were here."

"Abby, will you stay with me?" John asked wakly. She kissed him lightly on the forehead and stroked his hair gently.

"As long as you need me, John," she replied in a tone both motherly and lovingly.

"Thank you, Abby. Thank you."

***

THE END




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