Fast As You Can

RATING: PG-13 (language)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters (I wish I did!), NBC does. Lucky dogs.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This series was my first attempt at fanfiction, so please tell me how I'm doing!
    Time period: End of 6th season, minus the stabbing. And oh yeah, Doug and Carol are still there, and are married (which, in my opinion, should have happened anyway!!!).
    Warning: The following story may have violent scenes and vulgar language - sorry! Also, this is my very first fanfiction ever, I got hooked on reading them and thought it might be more fun to write them. This will be the first (of many) in this series. Good or bad thing? You tell me…
    Comments and Criticisms: PLEASE!! I could use the help! Be honest, however harsh that may be! Also, I took an anatomy class so I'm relatively familiar with the scientific terms for the body (I only got a B in the class) but I don't know the exact medical procedures or the medical jargon from the show - I'm gonna try my best though!
Song: "January Friend" by the Goo Goo Dolls - by the way, every song in the "Fast as you Can" series will be by my favorite band, the Goo Goo Dolls!
SUMMARY: The murder of a doctor in the ER stirs feelings of grief, sorrow, and fear, as 5 more doctors have gone missing...

For higher ground
About the way you look
The way you scream out loud
Just like the last time
Its all the same to me

The room was deathly quiet, the faint stench of formaldehyde lingering in the air. It was dark and the air was damp and cold, giving the frighteningly claustrophobic feeling of a tomb. A lone woman sat by a gurney, turned towards the lifeless figure lying in the cold, metal bed. She sat hunched over in her seat, making a hushed noise that was too sorrowful to be humming, yet too sweet to be weeping. Her arms were folded along the metal bars around the bed, her hands meeting gently on the cold arm that lay beside the equally cold body. She had seen so many deaths before this one, most of which had been excruciating and painful for both patient and doctor. Of course, she wasn't a doctor - yet. The quiet deaths - the ones that seemed to just slip away, even after it seemed they would survive - were much worse for her to witness. It was as if she could feel the patient's life leaving the body, as the eyes took their last blink and the lungs took their last breath. She shuddered at the memory of the scene she had witnessed only an hour ago. No matter how strong she appeared to be in the emergency room during a crisis, these quiet deaths affected her deeply. Her shift had ended shortly after the death, but she couldn't bring herself to leave. The body under the sheet was so small and still; a phenomenon too unusual for the natural world. It disturbed her to the core to see a five year old child lay so still. Cancer didn't care about the young age of its victims - only their vulnerability.

The slight squeak of an opening door caused her to gasp suddenly, straighten up, and whip her head around to face the door, as if she had been caught doing something she shouldn't have. The person at the door was masked by darkness, but his figure was so familiar to her that her suddenly tensed muscles eased quickly. The warmth he seemed to emit by merely existing thawed the chill that had seeped into her bones. He leaned against the doorway and folded his arms characteristically. "Hey," he said in his ruggedly handsome voice.

Comfortable again, she slumped into her previous position, but still faced the door. "Hey," she repeated. "What are you doing down here?" She hid a smile that would reveal how happy she was to see him. She loved the fact that he couldn't stand for her to be out of his sight for too long, even though she pretended to be annoyed.

"I should ask you the same thing," he said, the same hidden smile crossing his face as he spoke, but revealing itself in his eyes. He tried not to shudder as he inhaled the cold, damp air and felt it on his shoulders. He hated being down here.

He tore his eyes from the woman and looked past her to the body in the gurney. The hidden smile disappeared from his eyes, replaced by a look of concern. "The little girl…?" he trailed off, not needing to elaborate.

Carol Hathaway dropped her eyes mournfully back to the gurney. "Yes," she said quietly. The air between them stood still once again.

Doug Ross dropped his eyes, not knowing what to say. Carol had tended to this patient for a full week, staying hours past her shift, just to watch the girl's heart rate get back to normal. Doug had walked in on them numerous times, seeing Carol's arms draped over the bars of the girl's bed, like they were now. As far as he knew, the girl had regained consciousness only once, for a few days, before the tumor in her brain had put her to sleep again only an hour ago. During that brief time Carol had been positive that the tiny child had been saved from the dangerous lump in her head. But to see the look of absolute heartbreak across her beautiful face devastated Doug. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

Carol appeared not to hear him; she seemed lost in her own thoughts. She put her chin on top of her arms; eyes focused on the small figure in the gurney. "Me too," she mumbled, her words muffled by her sleeve.

Doug walked over to her and brushed her curly black hair from the back of her neck. He placed his hand on the exposed skin, stroking the nape of her neck ever so slightly with his thumb. Her hand reached to his forearm and it remained there, her silent gratitude of his support. Suddenly, the beep beep of a pager slashed the moment, breaking Carol's trance as she reached to her waist and removed the small plastic annoyance. "ER," she said quietly but abruptly. "Both of us."

"Both of us?" Doug asked. "How did they know I was with you?"

"Wild guess, probably," she joked, the tiny smile that always lurked around the corners of her mouth returning. She stood up, then closed her eyes agonizingly as one of her hands left the bar of the gurney and the other from Doug's forearm. Doug moved his hands to her shoulders, a signal of his strong support.

"Are you even on anymore?" Doug asked.

"No, my shift ended about an hour ago." She opened her eyes and looked into his. "I just couldn't leave yet. What about you?" She checked her watch. "Your shift ended ages ago."

"I was looking for you," he said, his eyes twinkling.

Beep beep, beep beep whined the pager again, interrupting yet another moment. Carol checked it again, even though she knew what it would say. "We gotta go," she said, her professional strength returning.

"Why don't they ever page me anymore?" Doug asked, annoyed.

"They know you too well. They know you never turn on your pager," said Carol not so seriously. Smiling, Doug turned away from her, reached to his waist, and turned on his pager. I'm getting too predictable in my old age, he thought. He followed Carol to the door, where she looked back only once, but was unable to tear her eyes away. Beep beep beep beep rang the two pagers, off beat from each other. They both checked their pagers in the same motion, then looked at each other in bewilderment. Together they left the morgue, the moment broken forever. Duty called.

She said
Let's pretend
My January friend
I'm wantin' you again
I wanna touch you
Every single heart that beats pretend

"Whaddawegot?" a tall black man shouted, the words slurred together as a result of saying them so often. He burst through the wooden doors forcefully (a spectacular motion for any stranger to see but perfectly ordinary to all of the ER staff) and leaned over the patient. No one answered his question. "Oh my God," he uttered softly, the blood drained from his face- completely unlike the composed and professional Peter Benton that everyone was accustomed to - as he recognized the patient.

My January friend
I'm wantin you again
I wanna touch you
Every single heart that beats

…Three hundred fifty one, three hundred fifty two, three hundred fifty - what number was he on? Arrrg, he had to start over now. Frustrated, the tired doctor rubbed his eyes. All he could see from his angle were green curtains, a fluorescent light that buzzed with electricity, and three hundred and fifty-something ceiling tiles. He gritted his teeth in utter exasperation and rubbed his eyes furiously. He had been so tired during his double shift that he thought he would be asleep before his head hit the pillow. Of course, that was before he had drunk an entire pot of coffee - much to the dismay of his co-workers - and taken several caffeine pills. Ordinarily he wouldn't be so stupidly taking such risks to his health, but a 16-car pile-up had just come in and he could not fall asleep in the middle of it. He had needed a quick jolt, and a quick jolt he had received. But as he lay in the exam room, his arm stretched across his forehead and his eyes worn with exhaustion, he seriously regretted taking the easy way to get energy. His brain was so tired that it felt numb. His body simply would not let him rest.

Maybe it's the light that's keeping me awake, he thought wearily, even though he knew it wasn't. Why is the light even on when I'm trying to sleep? He searched back into his mind to find out why on earth he would have turned the light on. Ah yes, he had turned it on so he could count the ceiling tiles. I am the amazing wizard of intelligence, he thought, and then chuckled at the ridiculousness of the statement. Man, he was tired.

Since counting the ceiling tiles hadn't put him to sleep, and since he had…only ten minutes until his next shift, the doctor decided that trying to sleep was futile. He could pawn off some patients on Lucy, if he had to. As soon as the caffeine wore off, he would sneak into an exam room and catch a 20 minute nap. The day had been uneventful - besides the 16-car pile up - and would likely remain so. Of course, there was no point in wasting the precious time he had before his shift started, especially since he hadn't heard any sirens for a long time. Leaning over, he turned the light off and continued to fight for sleep. He felt himself drifting off surprisingly quickly, and an intense feeling of relaxation swept over him very suddenly. It must have been the lights…was his last thought before he finally fell asleep.

An abrupt slam as the door opened awakened the sleeping doctor with a jolt. "Carter! Needed in the ER!" a familiarly unpleasant voice yelled.

"Not…Carter…" the doctor murmured through his sleepiness. It was too late; Haleh had already stomped away. Grateful for the few seconds that would pass before Haleh would realize her mistake, the doctor sank back into the pillow and closed his eyes. Beep beep sang his pager, bringing him back to reality once again. "Just 5 more minutes…" he tried to coax his pager sleepily.

As if that weren't enough of a wake-up call, Haleh marched in once again. "Malucci!" she bellowed. "Your shift's on!" This time she waited for him to get up; she was not about to come back here again.

"Not…Malucci…" the doctor stammered through his unconsciousness. His pager was still going nuts.

"Like hell you're not! Get up -" she tore the curtains open "-and get to work! ER needs you!" She pulled him out of bed by the arms and didn't let go until he was out the door. "Wake up!" she shouted as she bustled away.

Dave Malucci groaned and rubbed his eyes. "Never again," he grumbled.

Lydia stepped over his sprawled body that was still in the reception center. "Never again what? Never again drinking all the coffee in the lounge? Never again sleeping past your shift? Never again catching naps during your shift and not being able to sleep between shifts?" she asked, her hands on her hips.

Malucci rubbed his wrists where Haleh had dragged him out of bed. "No, never again will I sleep where Haleh can find me." He reached over to his pager. "And never again will I wear my pager when I'm sleeping." It was still ringing, and Malucci discovered that he had slept through 15 pages. Not only that, but after looking at his watch, he realized that he had slept 20 minutes into his shift. "Oh no," he moaned, as he scrambled to his feet and to the ER. It wasn't until he was on his feet that he realized the enormity of the news that his pager had given. "Oh shit," he said numbly. Paralyzed with shock, he stood staring at his pager, willing it to be wrong. He watched as crowds gathered around the doors of Trauma 1 and nurses streaming in and out through the doors. A 16th page snapped him out of his trance and sent him to the ER

Don't cry out loud
You've gotta bear your cross
But never dream too loud
And you're tied
Tied to the next time
You realize your crimes

"I need suction over here!" Benton yelled. A nurse dutifully complied. Benton had been shrieking his orders more belligerently than usual. He was running all over the room, doing everything himself, occasionally calling out for a nurse's assistance. It wasn't his ordinarily domineering attitude that caused him to work alone; all the other doctors seemed to be sitting on their pagers. "Where the HELL is everyone?!" Benton hollered.

The doors burst open upon his question, as if answering it. "What's up, Peter?" the low, gruff voice asked. The man slipped on a yellow cover-up and put on some gloves. "And what's up with the 10 pages on my way up here?" His eyes twinkled mischievously. "Just couldn't wait to see me, huh?"

"Shut up, Doug, and help me out!" shouted Benton, still running around the room frantically. Finding the instrument he needed, he ran up to the patient and focused intently with his surgeon's eye. "GSW to the left lung, right shoulder, and dorsal thorax, BP's 90, pulse is 55," he yelled. "If you had come when I first paged you, I wouldn't have had to page you 10 more times. Where the hell were you?!"

"I'm not even on right now, Peter," said Doug crossly. "You're just lucky I was a decent enough guy to help you out -"

"Then shut up and help me out!" Benton yelled. Doug let the interruption go…if it had been anyone else but Peter Benton interrupting his "I'm such a generous person, be grateful for my very existence" speech, he would have gotten seriously mad. Defeated (something he hated to be), he grumbled and walked over to the patient. His brow wrinkled, he surveyed the situation. Gunshot wounds to the shoulder and to the chest - probably a punctured lung. Doug's hands moved rapidly as he set to work. Still cross, he didn't seem to recognize the patient. No one bothered to tell him the patient's identity; whenever something like this happened, it was best to let the doctors see for themselves. This unspoken rule was in play as the nurses stood around the gurney, silently waiting. Doug certainly was dense. He had been in the room for a full minute but still hadn't recognized the patient on which he was working.

"And where the hell is Carol?" asked Benton, a little calmer now that he had some help, but still more frantic than usual. "I paged her too!"

"Carol went home," Doug said irritably, not taking his eyes off the tube he was inserting. "Her shift ended a long time ago -" he narrowed his eyes at Benton - "like mine did."

"Dammit! We need Carol now! Chuny, go find Carol and tell her we need her!" Benton yelled. Tearfully, Chuny complied. It really affected her when something like this happened. Gunshot wounds. How could this have happened?

"Peter, no!" Doug said assertively. "Carol's going home. She's had a really rough day and she needs to go home. She's not even on right now." Completing the tube he had been inserting, Doug looked up. "Just who the hell is on right now besides you, anyway?"

Benton glared at him with his fierce, tiger-like eyes. He looked down at the patient, answering Doug's question silently.

A wave of shock passed over Doug as he looked down and finally recognized the body in the gurney. "Oh…" he said, understanding. That's right, he thought. I forgot she had taken my shift. Shaking off the sense of fear that always hit when something like this happened, he started working furiously. Now he was fighting for more than a stranger's life - he was fighting to save a friend.

Let's pretend
My January friend
I'm wantin' you again
I wanna touch you
Every single heart that beats pretend

"And right in here is the OR, where…there don't seem to be any operations going on right now. All right then!" The doctor feigned a smile, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to be cheery when he felt more and more discouraged every second. He hated Kerry for sticking him with this job. He was a doctor, for God's sake - not a tour guide. The students he was guiding looked at him with young, eager eyes, but the doctor could tell that they were getting bored. Everywhere they had been that day was either empty or unavailable. For the first time in his life he wished for a disaster to bring in a few victims - ones that he could save, of course; he didn't want anyone to die - but these students could at least write up the experience and make him look pretty good. Why couldn't they have shown up during the 16-car pile up earlier in the day? He had been a hero then. The doctor smiled as he remembered the satisfaction of the ECG returning to the ble-bleep, ble-bleep after he had administered CPR for 10 full minutes. He was a god, whether it was in surgery or in the ER. That Lucy Knight was what was keeping him down. Always calling his mistakes and making him do "the right thing." She was cute, there was no doubting that. But too young looking and too strict to the rules. His grin changed to a scowl as he remembered what had happened after his spectacular save that morning: she had threatened to report him to Kerry after violating a DNR. He gritted his teeth in frustration. He was not usually one to violate a DNR, but this had been different. Somehow. He always managed to convince himself that they were all "different." Except when anyone else did it- then it was wrong.

Realizing that the students were still looking at him expectantly, he shook the thought out of his mind and forced himself to smile again. "Shall we continue?" he asked, striding to the door of the OR. He could show them how to wash their hands; there wasn't anything else to do. All of a sudden his pager blared, stopping him in his tracks. Finally! he thought, reaching for his pager. Squinting at the code that he interpreted as "ER," he whirled around characteristically and started to walk hurriedly towards the ER. "Come along, children, and see your first emergency," the doctor declared. Hopefully the patient would still need saving by the time he got there.

"Um, Dr. Carter, I get sick at the sight of blood," one of the four students told him weakly.

"Then you're in the wrong profession, sir," the doctor told him matter-of-factly. "And one more thing - " he faced the student - "I'm not Dr. Carter. I am much better looking than Dr. Carter."

A female student stifled a giggle. She had seen Dr. Carter in the hall; no way did this short, bald man compare to the gorgeous man named Dr. Carter. She swooned silently.

"I'm Dr. Romano," Romano stated. "Don't forget it again or I'll be forced to tattoo it on your forehead." Backing through the doors that led to the stairs, he continued. "Keep up, kids, fast as you can," in his usual patronizing tone - these "kids" were 20 year old medical students. "You can't be a doctor without being winded!" He looked at the student who was looking more and more sick at the prospect of seeing blood. "You go sit in the waiting room or something and meet up with us later. I've got enough to do without cleaning up your vomit," he said with a sense of importance. Beep beep, his pager urged him to hurry up. "Looks like you three are in for a treat," he said to the remaining three students.

My January friend
I'm wantin you again
I wanna touch you
Every single heart that beats

"Jesus, Peter!" Carol cried as she rushed into the ER, adorned with a yellow cover-up, goggles, and white rubber gloves. "What part of 'I'm not on right now' don't you understand?! I need to go home!" She brushed a few strands of her black curly hair away from her face. "Isn't there anyone else in this hospital who's actually supposed to be working right now?" Her eyes fell to the patient, who she immediately recognized. "Oh my God," she whispered. Quickly she set to work, checking the faint beats of the ECG and looking for the BP, only to find it shockingly low. "GSW?" she asked, bewildered.

Doug looked up as if hearing her voice for the first time. "Proximal clavicle, puncture in the superior left lung, and-" he turned the body over slightly - "thoracic vertebra 5."

Carol's heart sank. There was no way that last one could be repaired. If the spinal cord had been hit - and upon further inspection, she found that it was - the most optimistic prognosis was that the patient would be permanently paralyzed from the chest down. And that was very improbable, Carol realized bleakly, since its unlikely she will even live. She was petrified with the realization that all the doctors in the hospital couldn't put the broken one back together again.

However, she still had to try. She had to try her hardest. She checked the BP once again, discouraged by the continued drop. "BP's 70 over 40," she shouted. She's lost too much blood, she thought sadly. She knew by now that there wasn't any point in keeping track of the BP, it was falling too rapidly to get an accurate reading.

"Dammit!" Benton yelled, still furiously working on the wound to the patient's lung. He was afraid he was going to have to crack her in the ER - something he hated doing. He knew that the wound to the spine was the most critical, but somehow - and very unprofessionally - he could not bring himself to work on it. A quick look had told him that it was irreparable. To further investigate it would only prove him right. Benton usually loved being right, but at times like this, he couldn't bear it.

Suddenly the doors burst open. Everyone looked up, hoping to see another doctor to help out. Benton had paged nearly everyone in the ER (except for her, of course…she was the one who needed to be saved) and yet no one had bothered to arrive, save Doug and Carol. His fury at his colleagues' incompetence only ignited the overwhelming passion he was using to save his patient. He looked up at the opening doors, hoping to see anyone who might help him save this woman's life.

However, he was disappointed to see two uniformed officers entering the room instead of a doctor. He furiously returned to his work, focusing as intently as he ever had before.

The officers rushed to the patient, only to be pushed back by Carol. "Is she stable?" one officer asked.

Carol glared at him. "Does she look like she's stable?!" she asked angrily.

The officer glared back. "I need a description of the gunman. He's still at large." He looked around at the doctors and nurses who were working frantically. "Did anyone see anything?"

A woman burst into the room just then, wearing a yellow ER gown and goggle. She hobbled past the officers and approached the woman on the table. "What the hell happened?" she yelled, surveying the woman's injuries. She then looked around the room. "And where is everyone? Aren't more people on than this?"

"I'm not on, Kerry," murmured Doug and Carol at the same time, concentrating on their tasks.

"Well then who exactly is on?" Kerry cried, then added hastily, "Besides…" she gestured to the patient. She checked a chart that he had carried in. "Carter, Knight, Chen, Lockhart, Kovac, Malucci…they're all on! Where are they?!"

"You're talking to the wrong person," Benton replied angrily. "I've been trying to figure that out for myself." An officer began to inspect the patient, noting the wounds and the patient's status. "Somebody get them outta here!" Benton yelled. Carol escorted the officers out of the room, ignoring their protests.

All of a sudden Malucci came tearing in, forgetting his trademark smart-ass comment upon entering the ER. He leaned over the patient's face and closed his eyes painfully. "So it's true," he mumbled. The exhaustion had been shocked out of his system when he had received the page, and when he had heard Yosh lamenting over the disaster outside the room. All the nurses were crowded outside the door, as well as the reception staff and many of the patients who had been waiting in the waiting area. Except of course for Romano's fourth student, who sat breathing through a paper bag.

"Malucci, get out," ordered Benton. There wasn't any real reason why Malucci should leave, but Benton just needed to concentrate. Malucci had the ability to break his concentration like no one else. Except for her, of course.

"No way! I'm going to help!" yelled Malucci.

"Dammit, Malucci," Benton warned. Malucci stood his ground. Surveying the situation, he decided that the next thing to do was to shock her. He picked up the paddles, ready for action.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep… whined the ECG as it went flatline. Carol let out a deep breath. There was nothing left to do. It tore her apart to give up on any patient, especially one of her friends. "Call it?" she asked weakly after a period of silence.

"No!" shouted Benton. He ripped the paddles from Malucci's hands and pressed them to the patient's chest. "Charge it to 100, Carol!"

Carol stayed still. "Peter…"

All of a sudden, a voice was heard over the shriek of the ECG. "Where the hell are all the pediatricians in this hospital?" Romano burst in, shouting. Three medical students were at his heels, looking around the room in amazement, furiously taking notes.

"Get them out of here," Doug growled, breaking his long silence.

"No." Romano crossed his arms. "They want to see an emergency. So they stay." Satisfied, he glanced away from Doug and back at Benton. "So where are all the pediatricians? I see Ross over there -" he glared at Doug momentarily, then back at Benton - "but not Finch. There's a mother out here that's having a fit about not seeing a pediatrician for two hours. Don't we aim to please around here?" he added, purely for the benefit of his students. "Now where is Cleo Finch?

Carol shut off the ECG, ending the monotone shriek abruptly. Benton looked up at the clock, fighting tears that would shatter his reputation. "Time of death, 20:38," he said, quietly answering Romano's question.

Time stood still Monday morning yeah
Showed me what I had to see
It's not the way I thought it should be
Oh yeah
You're my January friend
And every heart that beats pretend
My January friend
You're my January friend
And every heart that beats tonight's pretend

So that was the intro to my story! (kind of hard to believe that it was just an intro, right? I know it was very, very long.) I will continue it immediately…but please, email me at, I'm begging you!! I need serious help!!

One more thing…I tried to make it interesting by making every doctor seem like Carter before I actually said their names. I did that for a reason…you will see why in due time…

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