Follow the Stars


AUTHOR: eriscool
EMAIL: awegner@apex2000.net
CATEGORY: DR/CH/Lko/MG/EC
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: Season five-six
ARCHIVE: Just tell me where.
DISCLAIMER: Don’t own the characters. No money made. Don’t sue.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I never forgave TPTB for writing out Doug and Carol, and the way in which they did was terrible. So I cooked a better way for Doug to leave.
Here's part one of my fan-fic Follow the Stars. I wrote without betas or any help for that matter, because no one I know is willing to proof read. So anyway songs used in part one include: You're My World by Glen Campbell, I hang my head and cry by Glen Campbell, and Place in the Sun by Glen Campbell.
SUMMARY: An alternate way to write out Doug.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You're my world
You're every breath I take
You're every move I make

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 17, 1997

Carol stood shivering violently in the misty night air, leaning over the protective railing along the roof. Her hair flapped in the breeze, a curl or two hitting her face once in a while. Tears gleamed on her moonlit face, a small sob escaping her throat only once in while. It had been one of the worst days of her whole career; no that was an understatement, her whole life. She had lost almost every patient she treated that day. It seemed impossible to lose so many people in just 8 hours, but if she had learned anything from her life in the ER; it was that everything is possible. Soon however, Carol knew that Doug would go looking for her. He would know where she was; he would make her better. He ALWAYS made her better. Even his presence alone intoxicated her with wonderful feelings. The moment he was there her sobs would turn from tears of sorrow to tears of joy, just by his presence. A gentle hand around her waist the other caressing her hair, and the smooth texture of his refined lips upon her own. She could almost feel the tears being swiped from her face and she could almost smell his sweet cologne. He knew her better than anyone else, even she herself.

It was just then that she realized that it was all truly happening. That WAS Doug's cologne those WERE his hands. She smiled softly for a moment, before yet another sob escaped her. He really was standing there beside her. The cold had disappeared; she was as warm as she ever needed to be. Small tears glistened lightly on her face, but Doug paid little attention to them except to wipe them away.

"Doug?" She asked shakily.

"What's wrong, Carol?" He asked gently, wiping a tear from her cheek.

Carol stood in his grasp staring at him, transferring all knowledge of her problems with her eyes.

"You aren't usually so emotional." He said softly, an almost concerned texture on his every word.

"I'm fine now." She smiled gently, but she hardly looked that way.

"You don't look fine to me at all." Doug hadn't moved a muscle since Carol had noticed him.

Carol stared at the ground, willing the tears to form puddles on the ground. She knew he was right; she wasn't fine. Nearly twenty people had died that day under her care.

"But…as a doctor, I think I know the perfect treatment." His smile sent shivers down her spine.

"I think that's the perfect solution." She smiled slowly.

She could feel his breath on her neck; they stared at each other for a long moment. Suddenly everything disappeared, all either of them noticed was the presence of the other. As they stood there together in each other's warmth, Connie headed for a break on the roof with her cup of coffee. Slowly the door creaked open, but neither Doug nor Carol noticed. Connie smiled, and softly shut the door before she disturbed them. Of course she knew about Carol's bad day, everyone was worried about her. Connie approached the desk hoping to find a plate of homemade brownies in front of Jerry.

"Is Carol going to be ok?" Lydia asked her as she approached.

"It looks like she's going to be just fine." Connie answered and smiled, an almost evil smile.

"So Doug found her, that's good." Haleh grinned.

"Too bad she doesn't want us to know about them yet." Connie half-smiled.

"It's too late for that." Lydia laughed, and the others quickly joined her.

"What's so funny?" Carol asked.

"Connie told this hilarious joke." Haleh answered frantically.

Carol nodded, "well I'm off anyway."

"Enjoy the rest of your night." Lydia returned to her charts.

"Thanks guys." Carol grinned warmly as she left.

The other nurses began giggling softly when she was out the door.

"She is totally clueless." Haleh said, and continued to giggle.

"What's so funny?" Chuni asked as she walked up to the admit desk.

"Carol had a bad day, but thanks to Doug she's going to be fine." Connie replied.

"And how do you know this?" Chuni grinned.

"One word. Roof." Connie replied.

"You saw them on the roof?" Chuni asked.

"Yep." Connie replied, bringing her now empty cup of coffee into Chuni's view. "Fortunately they didn't notice me, and I left before they ended the kiss."

"At least Carol is finally happy." Lydia said thoughtfully.

"I don't think she is." Jeanie joined the conversation.

"What do you mean?" Connie asked.

"She wants to tell you and Doug wants her too…" Jeanie began.

"Who wants me to what?" Doug asked suspiciously.

"To…uhh…join the nurses coffee club." Chuni blurted out.

"Thanks for the invitation, but I have my own coffee club; the lounge." Doug explained sarcastically as he headed for the lounge to get his things.

"Wow that was a close one." Lydia said.

"Almost too close." Haleh said returning to her duties.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other eyes see stars up in the skies
But for me they shine within your eyes
As the trees reach for the sun above
So my arms reach out to you for love

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 24, 1997

Doug and Carol stood in the ambulance bay on their break. It was nearing eight o'clock at night.

"You work tomorrow?" Doug asked her.

"No, you?" Carol replied.

Doug shook his head, "Naah."

Carol stared at her feet. "I see you made good use of the drawer I gave you."

"Yep." Doug smiled.

There was an awkward silence between them. A sudden trauma victim pulling into the station, Doug and Carol prepared to go save the person, but Kerry waved them away. They just stood and stared as a woman, no more than thirty years of age, was pulled from the ambulance. Doug tried to rush on toward the ambulance, but Carol held him back.

"They have it Doug." She explained calmly, tugging more forcefully on his sleeve.

He nodded knowing she was right, besides their shifts had ended several minutes ago. But they couldn't quite bring themselves to leave; they felt a need to stick around. If not to help then for the killer Christmas Eve party that was due to start any minute now. It was nearing thirty degrees, and Doug and Carol had little more than scrubs and a jacket on. Suddenly the loud blare of a boom box echoed out onto the frozen streets. They didn't head off right away, just stared at the clouds awaiting the snow that was sure to fall. Doug shivered as a sudden gust of wind rustled the tree branches far above the ground. A small clank was heard off in the distance, as a window was pulled tightly closed. A small child could be heard laughing calling to his friends. A Christmas tree was barely visible through a small window on the second floor of the hospital. The wind continued to rustle, and the temperature grew steadily colder. The howl of a dog broke through the silence creating an eerie stirring among the cats. The smells of a barbeque wafted through on a breeze, and it made everyone within a five-mile radius grow hungrier. For some this time of year was a lonely reminder of the past, and an eerie staleness rested upon the wind, felt by all, even the most happy person. The hustle and bustle of the day could be plainly seen from any point in Chicago as last minute shoppers piled into shops. The night sky was amazingly beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful starlit night of any Christmas before.

"It's getting cold." Carol finally said.

"Yeah." Doug agreed cheerfully.

"Hey I've got an idea, come with me!" She blurted out and yanked on his arm.

"What?" He asked.

"Come on Doug!" She shouted cheerfully, pulling him along, giving him no choice but to follow.

"Ok we're at the admit desk, now what?" Doug whispered, as absolute shock spread across his face.

Carol was now climbing onto the desk trying to get everyone's attention. It was a particularly slow night, and the only patients were in privet rooms away from the admit desk. His only thoughts were: please be safe, Carol. He was utterly shocked, amazed, and not to mention a little embarrassed.

"Carol?" He mouthed.

"Forget it Doug, she's moved over to the crazy side." Lydia explained noticing the look on Doug's face.

"What do you mean?" He asked quietly.

"Everyone, may I have your attention?" Carol asked loudly.

"That's what I mean." Lydia replied.

When she was sure everyone was watching her, Carol climbed down from the desk. Relief spread over Doug's face.

"From the looks of it, we've lost you too." Lydia commented.

Carol quickly grabbed hold of Doug's hand, and pulled him to the center of the arena, well the center of the admit area.

"I have an announcement to make." Carol began.

Doug watched her, bewildered, and then looked back at Lydia, who was grinning from ear to ear.

"Doug Ross and I are seeing each other again." Carol continued.

"Oh we already know." Connie blurted.

"You do?" Carol asked.

"Oh hon, please it was obvious." Haleh added.

Now it was Carol's turn to look shocked.

"I didn't know." Kerry assured them.

Doug looked at Carol for a moment and then at everyone else in the room, this was the perfect time to shock them all. He would do something no one expected, not even he himself.

"Well here's something you may not have known…" Doug began.

Carol looked at him confused, while everyone else continued to smile.

"Carol and I have been seeing each other again for a while, and I think it would be great for her to marry me." Doug finished.

Carol heaved a sigh of relief, and smiled. "Yes."

Doug didn't have a ring, but that didn't matter. The Christmas Eve party was quickly turned into a celebration of Doug and Carol's engagement. Carol seemed exceedingly happy, which was very comforting to her co-workers. Once in a while a doctor or nurse would go off to treat one of the patients, but other than that there were no disturbances to the Christmas/engagement party.

"Hey Carol, come on and join the Congo line!" The other nurses called.

"Only if you come with me." She grinned evilly at Doug.

"I guess I can take a few minutes out of my busy schedule." Doug replied with a smile.

"Busy schedule!" She said laughing.

"Oh yes, those three patients have kept me all tied up." He replied.

"Quit joking and come on!" She grabbed his arm, and yanked him toward the other nurses.

"I didn't know nurses liked to party so much." Doug commented as they joined the line.

"DOUG!" Carol elbowed him softly, getting only a soft "ooof" in reply.

"What?" He asked her.

"You know exactly what." She replied.

"Are you sure?" He asked.

"Absolutely sure!" She replied seriously.

"So what all do we have to eat?" Jerry asked, finally getting involved.

"Exactly the same stuff we have every year, and will have at the next party, which will be exactly the same as this one." Carol replied

"Who said there'd be another party like this?" Connie asked.

Everyone looked at her confused.

"This is your engagement party, it isn't a Christmas party anymore." Connie explained.

"I'm starved!" Doug wailed.

"I think we might have some pizza to dig into." Kerry smiled mysteriously.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Carol asked suspiciously.

"What?" Kerry asked innocently.

There was plenty of pizza, although it wasn't quite as fresh as when it arrived at the hospital.

"So…any ideas about when the date will be?" Mark questioned them as they merrily ate pizza.

"It takes more than 5 minutes to set a date." Carol replied.

"I know." He replied and looked at his watch, "and as it looks you've had an hour."

"Well…Mark buddy it takes more than an hour to plan a wedding date…" He grinned evilly, "If you're Carol Hathaway that is."

"You know it's gonna be weird calling you nurse Ross…" Chuni commented.

"Who said you would?" Carol and Doug asked in unison.

"Ok, now I'm scared." Mark said.

"Of what?" Carol and Doug asked in unison.

"That!" Mark replied.

"What's so scary about 'that'?" Carol and Doug asked in unison.

"Now you have us all scared." Elizabeth laughed.

"That isn't hard to do." Carol and Doug said in unison.

"Ok, now I'm scared." Carol laughed.

"Join the club, you can be president." Mark joked.

"Who's president right now?" Carol and Doug asked in unison.

"From the look on Kerry's face, she is." Mark replied.

Everyone laughed, including Kerry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With your hand resting in mine
I feel power so divine
You're my world
You're my night and day

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 7, 1998

"I'm on in 2 hours." Doug explained softly as he looked at the clock.

"Carol…oh Carol, get up it's 4:00 in the morning." Doug said softly.

"Huh?" Carol asked sleepily.

"It's 4:00 A.M.; time to get up." Doug kissed her in an attempt to wake her.

Carol opened her eyes a little, but quickly closed them again.

"Don't play possum with me, I saw you open your eyes." Doug said as he kissed her again.

Her heart was beating quickly, she was fully aware of her surroundings, but she didn't have control of the situation.

"Don't make me do this." Doug began. "Ok fine have it your way!"

He launched a massive tickle attack on her.

"Ok, Doug I'm awake!" She said in between giggles.

"I don't trust you." He said softly.

"That's probably a good thing." She tried to go back to sleep.

"Oh no you don't." Doug smiled as he began to pull her from the bed.

"It's my day off, and you get me up at 4!" Carol exclaimed loudly slightly irritated by his insistent ways to get her out of bed.

"Come on, we should set a date." Doug said.

"I don't even have a ring yet!" She exclaimed.

"That's where you're wrong!" He quickly slipped a small ring onto her finger.

"Why can't we just be two people who are engaged and going to get married?" She asked crankily.

"We are, but we are going to get married on a specific date." He explained.

"You know what I mean!" She shouted playfully.

"So?" He shrugged his shoulders.

"Ok, I officially hate you." She said.

"That's nice, I'll take it as a compliment." He replied.

"You wish!" She returned defiantly.

"How about some time in February?" Doug asked her.

"Why the rush?" Carol asked.

"Ok then, June?" He asked.

"Why do we have to set the date now?" She asked.

"Ok, November and that's my final offer!" He said proudly.

"I don't think it is." She said smartly.

"Why not?" He asked her.

"Because I know you too well." She replied.

"Now, I'll agree with you there." He replied. "You do know me too well, but I know you even better."

"What are you thinking?" She asked him, now suspicious.

"How about we get married in your favorite month?" He asked.

"Continue…" She said.

"May 18th." He suggested.

"Oh you're gonna get it!" She returned.

"Oh come on Carol, you can only have one disastrous wedding." He said sarcastically.

"But you can have many disastrous relationships, especially the ones with a man named Doug Ross." She replied.

"Are you implying something, Carol?" He asked.

"You bet!" She lunged at him from under the blankets, causing him to become quite startled.

"I deserved that didn't I?" He asked sarcastically.

"You most definitely did!" She replied.

"But…I'm at the door now…and if you want to get me…you have to get up." He returned.

"Ok, ok you win! I give up! I'm getting out of bed!" She said sleepily.

"And I made you breakfast too." Doug said.

"And if I wasn't hungry?" Carol asked.

"Well that'd be too bad because I'd have to get a feeding tube…" He commented.

"You don't have one." She replied smartly.

"I have a shift soon, I could just take you and the breakfast with me." He told her.

"But you wouldn't do that, would you." She said.

"Try me." He replied.

"So when do you leave for your shift?" She asked through a mouthful of eggs.

"In about 10 minutes." He replied.

"Aren't you on at 6:00?" She asked.

"Well if it hadn't taken you an hour and a half to get up…" He commented.

"So you're telling me it's 5:30?" She asked.

"No I'm telling you it's 5:31." He replied.

"Smart-aleck." She stated.

"Why thank you." He replied as he headed toward the door. "See you later Carol."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You're my world
You're every breath I breathe
If our love ceased to be
Then it's the end of my world for me
With your hand resting in mine

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 17, 1999

"Come on Doug," Carol groped the railing of the stairs for support as she slowly went down stairs. "Our shifts are in an hour."

"I'm in the kitchen!" He called, slightly disturbed by an odd moan in her voice.

"I'll just go sit on the couch." She told him.

From the time she got to the couch to the time Doug came and woke her up, Carol had no recollection of the events of those 30 minutes.

"Carol, it's 2:30." He told her.

Slowly she stood from the couch.

"Carol, what's wrong with you?" He asked.

She looked like a junkie. Her face was a light shade of red, an almost blush that she couldn't get rid of. Her lips were pale; it looked as if she hadn't seen daylight in years. She was shivering slightly, and the sudden strain of getting up caused her to fall against Doug.

"You're burning up." He said.

"No, I feel fine." She assured him.

"Don't lie to me Carol, I'm getting a thermometer." He replied.

"Really Doug, I'm fine." She said, but did not resist as he pushed her back onto the couch.

"Now sit still." He shoved the device into her mouth.

She sat there for what seemed like the longest minute of her life.

"Well Carol, your temperature is 101." He told her being his usual doctor self.

"Doug, I'm fine honestly." She replied.

"No you're not, and I'm calling you in sick." He told her.

"But Doug." She said softly.

"No buts, Carol, get some rest." He replied.

She drifted off to sleep slowly, uneasily. The agonizing pains of her movements reminded her of everything she had planned to do today. Doug watched until her breathing was even and less forced. She lay there asleep for several hours, until a sudden simmering woke her. She was dazed and slightly confused. She looked at the clock next to the bed. 6:00? She was late for work! Suddenly trying to sit up she realized that a jab of pain was present in her every movement as well as a slight dizziness at sitting up. Then she remembered what had happened.

"Doug was probably worried stiff about her at work." She chuckled at the thought.

"Why good morning, Miss Hathaway." Doug's cheerful voice called out.

"Doug? Shouldn't you be at work?" She asked.

"If it makes you feel any better, I did go to work. I picked up a thermometer because your high-tech one broke." He replied.

"Kerry let you off that easily?" She asked.

"She said I should stay and take care of you." He replied.

"But I'm fine!" Carol countered.

"If you consider a 101 degree temperature fine, then I guess you are." Doug replied.

"And let me guess, you snuck your new high-tech thermometer gadget behind your back in here, and you're about to use it." She said.

"You really do know me too well." He chuckled.

"But Doug I'm…" She began.

"Got a temperature of 104." He finished her sentence.

"Are you positive?" She asked.

"Yes, and you're going to visit the hospital." He suggested.

"But Doug I'm fine." She countered following him down the stairs.

"That wasn't a suggested course of action, that was a command." He replied.

"But Doug I'm…" She began.

"No you're, CAROL!" He whirled around to see her fainting.

She wasn't breathing. He groped along the wall, quickly taking the phone off the wall. He dialed 911 quickly, and began rescue breathing.

"What is your emergency?" the telephone asked.

"This is Dr. Douglas Ross, and I need an ambulance. Nurse Hathaway has stopped breathing!" He called into the phone.

"What is your location?" The person on the other end of the line asked.

Doug quickly began relaying information about their location as well as other information he thought to be important.

"An ambulance will be right there, Dr. Ross." The lady explained calmly.

Doug stayed on the line as he had always been taught, even though he could fully handle the situation until the ambulance arrived. How could he have let this happen? Carol had seemed perfectly fine a few hours earlier.

*

"Dr. Weaver, there's a trauma patient en route." Jerry explained.

"Any other information would be helpful." Kerry returned as she watched him take another bite of his bagel.

"I'm getting it now…" The color drained from his face.

"What is it Jerry?" She asked.

"Upper respiratory distress." He replied softly. "Kerry, it's Carol."

"You actually called me Kerry… wait a minute what did you say?" She asked.

"It's Carol." He replied.

"That's what I thought you said." She replied. "Trauma victim en route, Carter you're with me!" She called.

"What do we have this time." Carter asked.

"Female with respiratory distress." Kerry replied.

"Wait a minute…" He said as they unloaded the victim. "You didn't tell me it was Carol!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Every time I see her passin' by
All I do is hang my head and cry
And I can't forget her
So I've tried
All I do is hang my head and cry

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What happened, Doug?" Kerry asked.

"I don't know, really. When she woke up to get ready for her shift her temp was 101, and then a few hours later it was 104 and I was going to make her come for a check up at the hospital, but she fainted and stopped breathing." Doug explained.

"She's on a respirator for now, but she's getting better." She replied.

"What caused it?" He asked, now staring through the window looking in Carol's room.

"All we know is that it was fever related." Kerry replied.

"She was having trouble talking this morning." Doug added.

"Well her throat was swollen…" She replied. "But she will be fine."

He turned away, but a slight tug motioned him into the room. Out of impulse he sat in the guest chair that was resting in the corner. Kerry motioned toward a chair stationed much closer to Carol. Doug shook his head implying that he was fine where he was, only to be greeted by Kerry's stale gaze.

"I know you're scared and worried, but you need to be with Carol and she needs you to be there for her." She explained.

Doug didn't move, but his eyes said everything. He was too afraid to face Carol, after having let her become this sick. What would he do if something happened to her? He had seen her on a gurney only once before, nearly five years ago, when she had attempted suicide. Even then he had been unable to face her for weeks, he had caused it, though she would never admit it; he had been a major part of it. Kerry could not understand; she had not been there that day when she was rolled in. He wasn't even sure she knew about the event.

"Doug, people are never this stubborn to come to their loved one's side, what is the hidden problem that I don't see?" She asked.

"She was in this exact same position all those years ago…because of me." He stated softly.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"When she overdosed..." He replied.

She did not acknowledge if she had known about this previously or not, but the look on her face got slightly stiffer. "You'll feel better if you tell me about that, Doug."

"I never expected her to forgive me…after that last time we broke up." He didn't go into further detail.

"Even if you did play an insignificant role in that, this is different. Doug, this was no ones fault." She explained motioning again to the chair.

Doug followed her command, and finally he sat alongside Carol's limp figure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This pride, this pride
Well I have none
You made me lose you made me lose
My only one
And my worried, worried mind
Keeps on asking why
All I do is hang my head and cry

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 18, 1999

Doug sat in the chair situated next to the bed, a tight grip on Carol's right hand. A slight throbbing pain jerked at his heart, and a large lump lay nestled in his throat. He fought back tears, however unsuccessfully. Several tears glistened in his eyes, and a heavy silence rested upon the air. The only comforting reminder that this gentle figure in front of him was alive was the soft beep of the heart monitor. He jerked slightly every time the breathing machine made a noise. A soft slam from the door reminded him that he was not alone.

"She's still asleep?" Jeanie tried to be cheerful for Doug's sake.

"Yeah." He nodded thoughtfully, not removing his hands from her's.

"If it's any consolation…Kerry says we can remove the tube when she comes to." She continued with the fake cheerful tone.

"Yeah." He nodded again having only half-listened to Jeanie.

"She was lucky, Doug. You were there and it wasn't serious." She continued.

"Yeah." He replied yet again.

"Doug, look at me." She said softly.

He did so more out of impulse than of his own accord.

"Carol will be ok." She continued assuringly.

"That's why she's been in a coma for the last 13 hours, 57 minutes, and 13 seconds?" He half asked, half stated.

"Ok so you've kept a really close tab on the time." She said in wonderment.

"There's not much else to do." He replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like a long, lonely stream I keep running for the dream
Moving on, moving on like a branch on a tree
I keep reaching to be free
Moving on, moving on
There's a place in the sun where there's hope for everyone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 19, 1999

Doug had fallen asleep sitting there in that chair. The only thing he'd had to eat for the past 37 hours, 15 minutes, and 34 seconds was a sandwich from the cafeteria. He hadn't moved at all from her side, and for the first time he slept. But a sudden movement from the hand encased by his jerked him awake. The gentle, frightened eyes of the body on the bed probed the room stopping only as they saw the man sitting in the chair.

"CAROL!" He called softly. "Kerry, Jeanie, anybody she's awake!"

A tear glistened on Carol's soft cheek. If only she could speak, but the tube in her throat prevented that. She couldn't even perform the simple task of breathing on her own with that stupid tube there. Her eyes continued to probe the room stopping on the door, waiting. Anticipating the arrival of someone…anyone to remove the stupid tube.

"I came as quickly as I could!" Kerry panted. "Now, Carol, you know the drill."

Carol began coughing as everyone who had just had a tube removed did. "Doug." She said softly.

"Don't talk, Carol." Jeanie said.

*
"And if all goes well, you should be able to leave tomorrow." Kerry explained.

"That's good." Carol commented elbowing Doug who had fallen asleep during Kerry's speech.

"Huh…What?" Doug asked.

Carol glared at him.

"Oh yeah, that's good." He said.

"Anyway, I suggest that Doug actually go eat something." Kerry stated.

"I concur." Carol continued to glare at Doug.

"Ok, ok you win." He replied as he got up to leave.

"Now Carol, this kind of thing can happen to anyone." Kerry assured her.

"Right…" Carol said, slightly disbelieving her friend.

She lay back on the pillow behind her. She could only imagine how worried Doug would be about her now. She could just picture; cut back on your shifts, take it easy, eat more healthy foods, blah, blah, blah. The next few days especially, would be tantalizing.

"He'll never let me live this down." She sighed.

"You'd do the same thing." Kerry stated calmly.

Carol didn't reply. She knew, of course, that this was at least partially true. If ever anything were to happen to Doug, she couldn't imagine what she would do. Of course she would probably never have to face this prospect.

*

Doug had returned a few hours ago, and he sat in the same chair by her bedside holding her hand. Not clinging as tightly as he had before: for fear that she would not be ok, but close through the worry that her condition would suddenly slope downhill. Kerry had told Carol the whole story from the time she fainted to the time she woke up, including Doug's stubbornness. She knew exactly why he felt the way he did, she could only imagine feeling as if you had caused someone you loved to get sick…twice.

"So…tomorrow, you leave?" Doug asked cautiously, searching for safe grounds on which to start a conversation.

"If all goes well." She replied happily, and seeing the uneasy look in his eyes added, "Which I will be."

He nodded softly, and then turned silent again. For a long time she didn't force a conversation, knowing how awkward this was for him…again.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where my poor restless heart's gotta run
There's a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Gotta find me a place in the sun

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 27, 1999

"Carol, will you be alright while I'm at work?" Doug asked.

"Just go, Doug, don't worry about me I'll be fine." Carol replied casually.

"I'm worried about you." He added.

"Doug, I'm FINE!" She screamed reassuringly, gently shoving him out the door.

"I just want to make sure…" He continued.

"I'm FINE!" She assured him again.

Finally giving in he trudged through the door, and tried hard not to look back. She stood watching through the open doorway as he faded slowly into the unfolding sunrise. It was very early in the morning, nearing 3:00 now. She smiled softly, the trademark smile that most people missed out on. She could still make out his figure, now walking promptly along the sidewalk toward the EL. This morning had consisted of the usual "I'm worried about you" stuff she had gotten used to hearing, but he was lightening up; less of a lecture in the morning. That final day in the hospital rested vividly in her mind. He hadn't left her bedside once, although she prodded him to do so…to go eat or take a bathroom break, but he would always refuse. At the mere memory she couldn't help but smile. She had a shift in 9 hours, an hour after his ended. Kerry had tried to give her a break on hours worked with him these last few months, probably sensing the tension between them about how 'hard' Carol labored. His figure had now faded into the gentle sunrise, which was now blinding Carol with its brightness. His presence on the cold concrete slab of a sidewalk was only a mere memory. Carol cherished every memory of Doug she had, she could recall things from when she was 23…

It was, of course, snowing now. Fortunately the snow had waited just long enough for Doug to reach the EL. Her shift now a mere 8 hours and 47 minutes away, and the closer it came the more she dreaded it. A drunk a day, keeps the nurses at bay except when they start to feel mistreated and then they resign their positions and… She had just finished breakfast, the least important meal of her day consisting only of a banana and an uncooked piece of bread. Suddenly a small piece of parchment stuck to the wall just above her head caught her eye.

Carol,
If you begin to feel drowsy, feverish, sick, or have any other symptoms call me!

"Well, Doug, this is definitely an original way to keep an eye on me. I don't think you've tried this one yet." She laughed aloud to no one.

Silently she continued her normal morning routine, even though her mornings weren't usually this early, and she could easily catch a few more winks of sleep. Brushed her teeth, got dressed, watched an hour of TV, planned what she would do after work, and everything else nurses do. Looking nervously at the clock every 5 minutes, partially over the lecture she'd get when Doug got home and partially over her own oncoming shift.

"That's weird…Doug should have been home…half an hour ago." She calculated in her mind. "I'm on in half an hour myself."

She frowned slightly at the thought of work, but didn't let it dampen her spirit. "He probably just got held up at work."

She quickly piled layer upon layer of clothing on her body and headed into the frigid snowflakes that littered the ground in dense patches. One wrong step could find your self on the ground, but she'd had years of practice in just such circumstances. She giggled merrily as she dodged icy spots at a jogging pace. The heater on the EL was obviously not working, and it felt even colder than it truly was. Carol shivered slightly as she griped a hand railing above her head.

"Hey guys." She called as she shuffled through the door.

"Hey Carol!" Chuni called excitedly.

"Have you seen Doug?" Carol asked.

"No." Chuni replied, "But Kerry might have or Jeanie."

Carol looked through the pile of charts stacked on the admit desk, and then slowly walked on. She saw Mark along the hallway and asked if he had seen Doug.

"No, but I'd try the lounge if I were you." He replied.

"Thanks Mark." She said.

"Hey Carol, I need a nurse to run these test orders up to the lab." Kerry called down the hall.

"Sure." Carol took the chart, and looked over it. "Isn't this Doug's patient?"

"It's mine now." Kerry replied.

"Have you seen Doug?" Carol asked.

"You don't know where he is?" Kerry asked suddenly sounding worried.

"No…" Carol replied.

"We thought he was at home giving you a hard time about working to hard or something, but... Carol, he never showed up for work." Kerry explained softly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like a dusty old road
I get weary from the load
Moving on, moving on like this troubled earth
I've been running since my birth
Moving on, moving on
There's a place in the sun

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AUTHOR'S NOTES: I won't be using all Glen Campbell songs for this FF; these three just seemed to fit the story. Actually I'll probably use some songs that were actually on certain parts of ER, you never know. I'd love to hear ANY comments good or bad about my FF so far. I'll have part two as soon as I can, so until then you'll just have to clutch your knees to your chest and try to imagine what happens next (By the way I'm open to any suggestions you have and that includes songs to use) so you don't go crazy waiting for more of the story. (Although I can't imagine anyone liking my writing that much)



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