Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

AUTHOR: Lindsey
EMAIL: LoOnEyLiNdZ@aol.com
RATING: PG (language)
SPOILERS: Parts of Season 7 and Season 8
ARCHIVE: Email me and tell me where
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any part of ER, in this fic I own Romano's past, as small as it is.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Please, if you read my fic, I'd love to hear what you think. If you have any feedback (positive or negative), questions, suggestions, ideas for another fic, PLEASE email me! Fan fic authors live for feedback! : )
SUMMARY: This fanfic is a little different from my previous one. It will read like an episode of 'ER', looking at what the staff members are doing (and thinking) on Christmas Eve and through the night into Christmas Day. I hope you enjoy! (All Romances are valid as of 'Quo Vadis?')

5:00 p.m. ~ Christmas Eve

*tap, tap, tap*  Silence.  *tap, tap, tap*  "Hmm?"  Peter Benton opened his eyes to find his son, Reese, looking at him.

"Wake up, Daddy," Reese signed.  "I want to decorate the Christmas tree now."

It was a tradition that Peter had managed to keep over the years: decorating the Christmas tree with Reese on Christmas Eve.  But he had fallen asleep and they only had an hour and a half before they had to be over at his sister's house for dinner.

"Okay, man," Peter replied.  "Let's decorate our tree."

Peter had been through a lot in the past few months.  After Carla died, things had gotten really tense between him and Carla's husband, Roger.  After a series of nasty court hearings, he had finally managed to secure custody of Reese.  He couldn't have gone on without him.  He loved his little boy so much, even if, biologically, he wasn't his real son.  It didn't matter to him.  Not now.  In the beginning it had, in a way.  But not now.  He was spending the holidays with his son, and that's all that mattered.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

10:30 p.m. ~ Christmas Eve

::'Please Come Home For Christmas' begins to play::

Abby Lockhart wrapped herself in a warm, fluffy blanket and curled up in the big, overstuffed chair that offered the perfect view of the Christmas tree and the glowing fireplace.  As she sipped her steaming mug of hot chocolate, she remembered where she was last year at this time.  

I was with Luka, she thought.  And life was great.  I had finally gotten rid of my mother, for the time being.  I was happy with Luka.  We were at the hospital Christmas party together, standing purposefully under the mistletoe.  And then we went home and spent the rest of the night in each others arms.  It was the best Christmas of my life.  Instead of making sure my mother didn't kill herself on Christmas Eve, like she had always threatened, I was in the arms of the man I loved.  And now here I sit, a year later.  Cuddled up in a blanket, late on Christmas Eve, looking at my pathetic Christmas tree and dying fire.  God, this could be a sappy scene from a movie...  Then she had an idea.  There was a friend of hers that might be able to cheer her up a little.  She picked up the phone and swiftly dialed.  ::Ring::  C'mon, pick up.  ::Ring::  Please be home.  ::Ring::  Please, answer the phone!  After 5 rings, the answering machine picked up: "Hi, you've reached the Carter residence.  We're unable to come to the phone right now, but if you'd leave your name, number and a brief message, we will get back to you as soon as we can."  ::beep::  Abby replaced the receiver.  Out with Susan.  Either that or they're home, but too damn busy to pick up the phone.  I should have known.  

::The camera pans out, giving a view of Abby, her Christmas tree and fireplace, while 'Please Come Home For Christmas' becomes louder::

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1:00 a.m. ~ Christmas Day

::'Please Come Home For Christmas' continues and ends shortly into the next scene::

The scene changes, dimming into the apartment of Luka Kovac.  No decorations.  No lights.  Not even a tree.  Christmas brought out the worst in Luka.  Ever since his wife and children died, he had never seen the point of putting up decorations and celebrating.  Except for last year.  Last year he had done it for Abby.  Not this year.  This year, he didn't even have anyone to spend Christmas with.  Not even Nicole.  She had left for Montreal the week before.  

It was probably for the best, Luka thought.  I didn't even love her.  I cared for her, but not near as much as I cared for Abby.  That didn't work out, either.  Last Christmas had to be the best since I came to America.  Christmases in Croatia were okay, but we didn't have hardly any money.  We had to always share everything that everyone got for Christmas throughout the year.  Nothing ever belonged to one certain person.  Here, he had nothing either.  The only thing he had ever wanted was his family back, but no one would ever give that to him.  Truthfully, what he wanted this Christmas was Abby.  Although he would never admit it to anyone, he missed her.            

::Camera pans out over Luka's empty apartment::

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3:00 a.m. ~ Christmas Day

The radio was softly playing Christmas music.  The lights were off but the living room was aglow with the tiny twinkling lights of the tree.  Mark Greene and Elizabeth Corday were lying on the couch, baby Ella asleep in Elizabeth's arms.  They both were awake, but silent, both deep in thought.

I made it, Mark thought.  I actually made it.  There were times when I thought I'd never see that baby's face.  It's going to be a year since my operation.  If something ever happened to me, I know she'd be all right.  She doesn't think so, but I know how strong she is.  When the doctors wheeled me in to surgery, she could have been on the floor, sobbing.  But she wasn't.  She was stronger than I was.  I'd never have gotten through everything without her.  I hope she knows how much I love her.

He made it, she thought.  They say the first year is critical in a patients recovery.  He passed with flying colors.  I've got to admit, there were times when I thought he wasn't going to make it.  I don't know what I'd do without him.  He means everything to me.  When the doctors wheeled him in to surgery, it took everything I had not to collapse right then and there.  But he's here now, and that's all that matters.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

4:00 a.m. ~ Christmas Day

*lick, lick, lick*  Silence.  *nudge, nudge, nudge*  Silence.  *sniff, sniff, sniff*

"Hmmm?  What..."  Robert Romano opened his eyes to find his dog, Gretel, standing over him on the bed.

He scratched her ears.  "Oh, Merry Christmas, Gretel.  Good girl."  Romano patted his dog on the head.  He must have just fallen asleep.  He had been up all night, thinking of work.  

Did Benton really need to get verbally insulted on Christmas Eve?  Probably not.  Was the remark I made to Corday really considered sexual harassment?  Probably.  Oh well.  Work is the only place where I'm in charge.  The only place I've ever been in charge.  Living with an alcoholic, abusive father and a bipolar mother who was beaten every time she became manic wasn't easy.  I've kissed enough ass for years.  It's high time some others do some ass kissing as well.  I've done my share of 'follow the leader'.  Now it's my turn to be the leader.  Sometimes I do care what people think.  And sometimes I do care for others.  But most of the time I don't give a damn.  Oh well.  Merry Christmas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

5:30 a.m. ~ Christmas Day

::beep, beep, beep, beep::  What the hell is that?  Kerry Weaver checked her pager.  Not mine.  Must be Sandy's.  Just then, Kerry felt hands on her bare shoulders and a kiss on her neck.  "Sorry, but I've got to go.  I'm being paged to the firehouse," Sandy whispered.  

"But what about...?"

"Don't worry Kerry.  We have the whole day to spend together.  I'll be back in a couple hours."

Kerry watched Sandy leave.  She laid back and rested her head on the pillow.  

I'm not sure what to think about Sandy, she thought.  I really like her.  But I don't love her.  I don't even care for her near as much as I cared for Kim.  God, Kim.  I can't seem to get that woman out of my head, no matter how hard I try.  Sandy's touch is nothing like Kim's.  Kim was softer.  Sandy is rough, in both touch and personality.  I miss Kim so much.  I'd much rather be spending Christmas with her than with Sandy.  Oh well.  I guess I'll enjoy myself.  I'd much rather be with Kim, but I'd much rather be with Sandy than by myself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

6:00 a.m. ~ Christmas Day

Susan could feel the heat of the warm fire on her face.  She and John had fallen asleep in front of the fire the night before.  She reached for John, and realized he wasn't there.  "John?"  Then she spotted him, putting a CD in and switching on the stereo.  "What are you doing?"

John came toward her.  "Dance with me," he said softly, taking her hand and helping her to her feet.  

Susan smiled and wrapped her arms around him.  "Classical jazz?" she asked, eyebrows raised.  

John nodded.  "Yep.  I have a very... interesting CD collection."

"I'll say," Susan said, smiling.  "No Christmas music?"

John just smiled and pulled her closer.

I've never been happier than I am right now, John thought.  With every other woman I've ever been with, it's never been this... great.  All my other relationships were strained.  But not this one.  Susan was a friend first, maybe that's why.  I'm not sure what it is, but whatever it is, I'll never love anyone more than I love her.

"What are you thinking about?" Susan asked.

John smiled and kissed her.  "That I've never loved anyone more than I love you."  Seeing her smile, he added, "What about you?"

How can I tell him?, she wondered.  I love him so much.  I've never been happier in my entire life than I am right now.  But, how can I tell him all that?  I'd probably scare him.  Although, John's not like that.  Maybe he'd understand.  But, God, how I love him.

Susan laid her head on John's shoulder.  "I've never been happier than I am right now," she said.  After a pause, she added, "Merry Christmas, John."

Understanding the tone in her voice, John replied, "Merry Christmas, Susan."

::Camera zooms out, capturing the couples shadow against the fire, as snow falls outside and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' begins to play and scene fades::

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