Don't Look Back in Anger

AUTHOR: Carolina
SPOILERS: Season 6
DISCLAIMER: It's very sad the fact that none of the characters belong to me. Believe it or not, I wrote this story in 3 hours. Why is that relevant you ask? It's not. I just want your admiration for me to grow stronger.
SUMMARY: Carter returns home after rehab

John Truman Carter was amazed at how different Chicago looked from an airplane window. The sight brought back memories of those little snow globes his sister was so mad about when she was a girl. Miniature buildings, cars, and individuals, who went about their daily routines, grew bigger as the plane approached its last destiny. It has been a long summer, memories flooding in and out of his flesh as a long sigh was released from his lungs when it was announced that passengers could take their seat belts off. With a mixed emotion of excitement and reluctance, Carter made his way out of the plane as he thanked the overly jovial stewardess and approached the gate. Following the various multi languages signs that hanged from the ceiling of the busy airport, he started to head towards baggage claim. That was before he heard someone call out his name. "John!" He turned around to see his grandmother, with that all too familiar half smile on her wrinkled face. He approached her carefully and it wasn't until he was already kissing her when he noticed the tall dark figure standing next to her

"Welcome home man" said Peter Benton as he grabbed Carter by his neck and pulled him towards his embrace, both patting each other on the back. "It's good to be back" were Carter's first sincere words in a long time.

Carter always hated when his grandmother insisted on using that ridiculously large limousine instead of a 'normal' car. It always made him feel uneasy. Today that was the last thing he could think of. As he sat on the back of the black car, he pushed a small brown button until his window made it all the way down. "John, roll that window up, it's not safe" snipped his grandmother

"Oh come on, leave him alone" added Peter. Carter watched as his best friend and his 'gamma' tangled each other on meaningless conversation. Turns out they had become good friends over the course of the summer, Peter always making sure gamma had company, and gamma always calling Peter to update him on Carter's recovery. He smiled to himself at the scene in front of him and turned to the window. It turns out the city hadn't looked different because he was on an airplane, it looked different even from the ground. Colors were brighter, the wind felt softer on his skin, the sky bluer as birds flew in and out of big clouds he had never stopped to look at before. As the car passed a hot dog vendor he ate from almost everyday for six years, he realized Chicago hadn't changed at all, he had. This time for the better.

The sun slowly settled outside as Carter followed the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. There was his grandmother, moving from one stove to the other and as she ordered the cook around "I see you still go on 'power trip mode' when you step in the kitchen" Carter joked

"John. I'm making your favorite dish, hot dogs" she uncovered a pan full of weiners

"Thank God." Grinned Carter "I'm starving" he said as his grandmother shoved a plate in front of him with 5 hot dogs.

"So, are you ready to go to work tomorrow?" She asked while looking at him take a big bite if the first hot dog

"Yeah. I miss work. I hope they're not planning on throwing me a surprise party. Knowing them as I do, they probably will"

"They care about you" she observed

"Yeah" he thought "They really do"

That night came faster than Carter could have wanted to. He laid on his bed for the first time in months and smiled. He was a little nervous about going to work tomorrow, but he wanted to see everyone so much. Over the summer he had worked on accepting he had a problem, and he assured himself that people go through worst things everyday, and that there was no reason for him to be ashamed of what happened. He was a little reluctant when he arrived at the center, probably because right there and then when he realized he didn't know who he was anymore. His life had come to make belief games in which everything was roses in meadows. Now he had to work on removing the thorns.

Carter stretched on his bed as the alarm chimed on his ears. He turned it off and stood from his bed rather quickly, like a kid getting ready for his first day at school. He opened the drawer and removed a brand new pair of suspenders the people from the center in Atlanta gave him as a 'graduation' gift for good luck. After he was well dressed and perfumed, he made his way down the stairs where his grandmother was making him breakfast. He never realized how good food was until he ate one of his grandmother's scrambled eggs with toast.

"Good morning John" his gamma smiled "did you sleep well?"

"Like a baby" he said while he took a big gulp of scrambled eggs

"John honey, a spoonful" she tried to remind him of her rules of etiquette "Your parents called yesterday, they're coming on a visit, check up on you"

Carter moaned. He loved his parents, but they had a very special way to drive him crazy. He figured there was nothing he could do about it so he just sat back and relaxed. "I'm gonna start looking for an apartment today"

"Do you really have to move out John? You don't have to pay rent here" she moaned

"I can't live off you forever" he laughed "Remember?" she had to give him credit for that. He looked at his watch and quickly got off the table as his gamma took a piece of toast from his plate. "I gotta go now, I'll be back for dinner" he said as he gave her a kiss on her head and walked out.

"Remember your parents are coming to dinner tonight John, don't be late" he shouted something she couldn't hear and disappeared. She smiled at the feeling of being a mom again. She went about her daily routine once more.

Carter had decided to walk to work instead of taking a cab or the El. The truth was that it wasn't the loveliest day of all, little clouds filled with rain were forming in the horizon. But he wanted to think some before he went to work. He had been thinking about the people at work during the entire summer. That was one of his few incentives. He missed all the nurses and the way they pretended to be though with him. He missed Mark and Kerry and the way they were always there to help him when he was in a jam. Hell, he even missed Malucci. The last few weeks at work they had form some sort of bond. Carter always pretended not to be interested in what Malucci had to say, but the truth was, he enjoyed his company. He missed the patients, even the problematic ones. He took a deep breath as he cornered the ambulance bay and the doors to the er parted before him.

"Carter! Welcome back" said Chuny happily as she gave him a peck on the cheek. All the other nurses welcomed him back as well, although not as enthusiastic as Chuny. It was early and only a few patients were waiting on chairs, the doctors who covered the night shift getting ready to go home. He went into the lounge to put his things away, someone was getting ready to walk out

"Morning Deb" he said as if it was just another day. She saw him and walked towards him with a smile. Carter, remembering how brutal Deb can be, jumped in a reflex, but composed himself when he realized she just wanted to say hi. Last time she wanted to welcome him back she might as well have taken out a knife and stab him again

"Welcome back John" she said as she hugged him tight "I didn't know you were coming in today"

"Cut the crap Deb, I know you guys are planning a surprise party" he said as he opened his good old locker and settled his things inside

"Yeah well. You didn't hear it from me." she laughed

"Are you leaving?" he asked her

"Yeah, I've been on all night, I'm dead." she opened the door "Welcome back" she said before walking out the door. Carter wanted to ask Deb if everyone knew the real reason why he was gone, but before he could say anything she was already gone. He closed his locker door and stared at his name tag, he had come so close to losing it.

He was brought out of his reverie as the door to the lounge opened again. He turned around to see Abby Lockhart, who jumped back when she saw him. They both stared at each other for a while, feeling the air around them getting more and more dense. They were thinking the same thing, but either one of them could work up the courage to speak up. Abby broke the silence

"Dr. Carter" she said in awe "you're back" she said as she walked towards her locker, which was painfully close to his

"Yeah, what are you doing here? It's summer" Carter followed her with his eyes

"Well, with Carol gone we're down one nurse so I'm filling in" she said nervously

"That's good" Carter added, not really sure if it was or not, just wanting to make conversation

"Yeah. My divorce is over and I got screwed, so I have to work for the money" just after she finished the sentence she realized he didn't need to know that much information

"I'm sorry about that" he responded, looking around awkwardly. He took a deep breath, turned completely to look her in the eyes and continued "Listen, Abby..."

He was interrupted by the door opening again, this time by Kerry, who smiled brightly when she saw him "John, welcome back!" her high pitched voice filling the room "Abby, Luka needs you in trauma 2"

"Ok" Abby said before she looked at Carter again and walked out the room. Kerry limped her way over to Carter and looked up to him "How are you feeling John?" she asked him, always a little straight forward. Kerry was the closest thing Carter had to a mother figure, besides his gamma. He smiled at the small figure in front of him "I feel great" he assured her. She could see the sincerity in his eyes and seemed to be pleased with his answer. She still knew there was something else he wanted to know, so she responded an unquestioned request "We kept everything confidential. Only the people who were involved really know what happened, and Abby. As far as everyone else is concerned, you took some time off to recuperate from your injuries" He looked relieved with her answer. At least now he wouldn't have to worry about the looks and rumors. "Thank you Kerry" he squeezed her arm and walked out the door.

"Hey! My man" Carter recognized that voice and enthusiasm. Dave Malucci made his way around the front desk and welcomed Carter with a hug, a surprising gesture for both. Before Carter could answer Dave kept talking, typical Malucci behavior "Hey, I have tickets to see the Cubs this weekend, the Braves are in town, what do you think?" Dave didn't even seemed aware that Carter had been gone. Carter just stared at him "I don't know Dave, we'll see" He knew Dave would find a way to persuade him to go. Carter didn't have a problem with that.

"Hello Dr Carter" a thick accent came from behind. "Welcome back" added Luka as he headed to exam 2 with a patient and Abby in tow. Carter nodded and smiled back. "Abby? can I talk to you for a second?" Carter almost shouted, but before Abby could answer Luka jumped in "Hey, get your own nurse" as he pulled Abby into the room. Carter decided he better grab a chart and do something before he was out of the er for good. He tried to spend the day as normal as possible. Since it was a Monday, only a few patients came in. But enough to keep every doctor busy for the day. Carter called out a young woman with flu symptoms. She introduced herself as Alison. Carter courted her into curtain three and settled her into a bed. "It started out this morning, my husband had the flu and I think I might have caught it" she said as Carter checked her vitals and ordered some tests.

"Right, I'm gonna order some exams, run some tests so we can determine what's wrong. Any chance you might be pregnant?"

"No" she said in disappointment "We've been trying but my doctor says there's no hope"

"Ok. I'll be back with your test results" he said as he smiled at the young woman. This is what he missed the most about his work, his relationship with the patients, the way they look up to him and confide things they don't tell anyone else. He liked helping people, it's what he was meant to do, and he wouldn't leave it for the world. As soon as Carter got the results to Alison's test he walked into her room, a little too excited. "Hi Alison. I got your test results" The young woman looked up at him "Congratulations, you're gonna be a mom" Carter said, a big smile formed in his face. Alison stared at him in awe. "How could this be?" she asked "my doctor said it's impossible" Tears began to fall down her face when she realized Carter wasn't pulling one on her. "Oh, this is such a miracle, thank you so much" she said as Carter laughed.

"I think you should maybe thank your husband, cause I can assure you I had nothing to do with this" Carter said as he began to remove her IV "You're free to go if you'd like. Stop by the font desk and they'll give you a couple of numbers so you can make an OB appointment and hopefully I'll see you in 9 months" The woman thanked him 10 times again before walking out the door. Carter started to follow her out the when he turned around. In a flashback, all the events of that fateful Valentine's Day came back, only this time, they didn't terrorized him. He smiled, "See ya" he said to no one in particular.

The rest of the day had gone by uneventful. Towards the end of the day he had given up on the idea that they were throwing him a surprise party, of course, you never know with these people. He walked towards the front desk to clock out. He moaned when he remembered he had to go have dinner with his parents now, making Randi look at him like he was a loony. He smiled at her and started to walk towards the lounge when he saw someone he had been meaning to talk to all day. "Abby!" The young nurse turned around "are you off?" he asked

"Yeah, I'm going home in a couple of minutes" she said following him towards the lounge

"Listen, Abby..." he opened the door to the lounge before he finished his sentence, big mistake

"SURPRISE!" a loud crowd stood in front of him with hats and immediately the music began 'Of course' he thought. As a big group of people began to surround him, Abby went to her locker to retrieve her things, and walked out of the room quietly. The nurses began to cut a crutch shaped cake and began to pass it around. Carter looked around the room and smiled. In one side there was Malucci, dancing around with all the nurses at the same time. On another side, Kerry talked to Mark about her future plans for the er, Malik was standing in one corner with Dr Kovac, teaching him how to spin a basketball on top of his finger. It felt good to be home. He hated to disturb the party with the announcement that he had to go home. Everyone protested but he knew they would stay partying even though the guest of honor wasn't really there. Before he walked away a small amount of icing on the floor caused him to slip and fall into a garbage can.

"Looks like Carter's back" observed Chuny

"He sure is" assured her Kerry

He waved a few people good-bye and walked into the evening.

Abby Lockhart sat in her small apartment with candles lit all around. She was trying to read a book by the light of the window, but the sound of rap music and people shouting would not allow her to concentrate. She closed it and threw it on the couch in frustration. Resting her head on a pillow, she concentrated on the patterns of the ceiling. She almost fell off the couch when a loud knock at the door startled her. Moving carefully to a corner, she grabbed a baseball bat and moved back in front of the door "Who is it?" She shouted in a deep voice, trying to sound like a man.

"It's Carter" a deep voice mocked her back. She smiled and opened the door carefully, bat still in hand. Carter saw the sight in front of him and laughed while putting his hands up in defeat "I hope you're not going to use that on me, cause I have to warn you I'm the worst ball player"

Abby smiled and motioned him. "Sorry Dr Carter, I didn't know it was you" she said as she closed the door and put the bat down. She gave him a questioning look he understood. He looked around "Why are all the lights out"

Abby gave him a straight answer "Well, it turns out when you don't pay your electrical bill, they cut the power off" She tried to joke about it

"Oh, I'm sorry" he tried to sympathize

"It's ok, people lived without electricity for millions of years, it never killed anyone" she offered him a seat on the couch.

"Anyway" he started "I've been meaning to talk to you all day" she sat next to him to listen better "I wanted to apologize to you for the way I reacted when I left. I wasn't really myself and I know I really hurt you with the way I talked to you, I'm sorry" he looked down

Abby had been looking at him closely, hugging her knees. "Well, I guess I owe you an apology as well, I probably should have talked to you before I went to Dr Greene..."

"No, no" he interrupted "I would have just convinced you that nothing had happened. You did the right thing. Thank you."

Abby smiled. She certainly hadn't expected him to apologize and then thank her. She wanted to be honest with him as well "Well, the truth is, that I think you're a great doctor, and an exceptional teacher. It was very hard for me to go back to med school, and when I started working in the er, it just felt like I had made the wrong decision, because I kept messing up and nobody seemed to care if I showed up or not. But you did care. And even more, you took time out to guide me. I admire you a lot and I guess in my own selfishness, I didn't want to lose a good mentor" she finished and gave him a shy look

"Thanks Abby, that means a lot" he looked at his watch, made a decision, and patted her knee "Did you have dinner yet?"

"Um, no"

"Let's go get something to eat" he said dragging her up with him.

"What? You don't have anywhere else to be?" she asked the obvious, surely he had other things to do on his first day back

"Nope. We're going out to dinner" Carter didn't give her much choice and before she knew, they were already walking down the street "By the way, me and Malucci are going to a ball game this weekend, seeing as you're such a fan, you're coming with us"

"A hot day with 50,000 screaming fans and Malucci, how can I turn that down?" sarcasm, cool.

"Yeah, well, if you behave I'll even get to tell you how I once got my beard glued to a patient"

"You had a beard?"

The darkness of the night embraced a broken promise, and a new friendship formed. Miles away a mother and father waited for a son they wouldn't get to see tonight. Both teacher and student laughed as Carter looked up into the sky.

Yes sir, it's good to be home again.

The End

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