Helping Hands

AUTHOR: Lynne Facella
SPOILERS: Be still my heart through May Day..
ARCHIVE: Sure, just ask so I know where it is going.
DISCLAIMER: All characters are the property of Warner Brother, NBC, etc. and no profit is being made from this.
SUMMARY: Carter tries to get his life back with rehab and the help of his friends, despite some opposition.

"Ladies and gentleman please fasten your seatbelts. We are approaching Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport."

Dr. John Carter wearily opened his eyes and fastened the seatbelt around his waist. He glanced over at Dr. Peter Benton seated beside him. The two men had been silent for most of the three hour plane ride. Carter turned towards the window. He was in an utter turmoil over all that had taken place that evening. The accusations from his colleagues, the ambush in Curtain three as they demanded he either check himself into a drug rehab or he was fired. How fitting that the little saga would end in the same room he and Lucy had been stabbed in only three short months ago. Carter felt like he had aged a lifetime in those three months.

"Hey man, you doing okay?" Benton's gentle voice drew Carter out of his thoughts. He looked at Benton briefly and nodded. He didn't even know what to say to him. He was humiliated by everything that had happened, Benton's confrontation with Carter, Carter punching his former teacher in the face, dissolving into tears and ultimately finding himself being comforted in Benton's arms.

"Are we going right there when we land?"

"No Carter, it's 3:30 a.m. We'll check into a hotel room and get some sleep. Anyhow you need to get some clothes and stuff in the morning before you check in." They had left Chicago without even stopping to pack. Once Carter had calmed down Benton had driven him directly to the airport. Carter had been surprised when Benton walked up to the ticket counter and bought himself a ticket also. He hadn't said a word but just quietly accompanied Carter to the plane. Carter had never felt so scared and lonely in his life and the presence of Benton had helped to comfort him somewhat. He couldn't even believe any of this was happening.

Finally the plane landed and the two men got a shuttle to the nearby Hilton. Benton checked them in and they went up to their room. Upon entering, Carter immediately threw himself onto one of the beds and grabbed the remote control to the television. Then he started rapidly clicking through the channels. Benton sat on the other bed and reached for the phone. He doubted that Kerry was still at the hospital but he decided he had better call in anyhow and let someone know what was going on. He was surprised when the front desk clerk actually told him to hold for Kerry.

"Peter what is going on? I have been so worried," Kerry voice came on the other end of the line. "Did you have trouble with Carter?"

"No. Everything is fine. We're in Atlanta."

"You went to Atlanta with him?" Kerry asked. "How is he?"

Peter glanced over at Carter who was apparently engrossed in some late night infomercial but he knew that he was listening to every word he said. "Okay," he replied shortly.

"He's with you now?"

"Yeah. We're going to get some rest."

"Okay Peter. I know you can't really talk. Call us tomorrow after he is checked in...and try to let him know just how much everyone is pulling for him."

"I will. Bye Kerry."


"Everybody all updated?" Carter asked somewhat sarcastically.

Benton sighed. "Carter...everyone is just very worried about you. You know that they all care."

"Yeah....whatever...." Carter got up and made his way towards the bathroom. "Guess we had better think about getting some sleep."

Benton sighed. He still was finding it difficult to take in everything that had happened in the past few hours. John Carter abusing drugs...It wasn't something he would have ever suspected. Then again, he hadn't really been focused on Carter too much lately. Once Carter had gone back to work Peter had sort of assumed that everything was okay with him. He supposed he should have paid more attention but he was busy with work and his relationship with Dr. Cleo Finch and just hadn't thought too much about it.

"Damn" he thought, he had not even told Cleo he was going to Atlanta. Hopefully someone would fill her in. He didn't want to call and wake her at this hour, especially because she had seemed rather peeved after he and Elizabeth had gotten out of surgery the day before although she denied it. He wondered what had been up with that...maybe she had just been in a mood or it had been his imagination.

Carter came out of the bathroom clad in boxers and a T-shirt. He silently hung his clothes up in the closet and crawled into bed. He was exhausted. He burrowed his head into the pill and actually was asleep before Benton came out of the bathroom. He climbed under the covers and observed Carter noting how young he looked and what a shame this all was. Finally he too fell asleep.

Carter was the first to awaken. He slowly opened his eyes and for a few moments was disoriented. He had no idea where he was. He looked around the room, took in Benton sleeping in the bed beside his and slowly things started to fall into place. "Oh my God," he thought to himself as he remembered the events of the previous day. He slowly sat up and cringed as the muscles in his back rebelled. He needed some pills. He glanced over at Benton who was still asleep and crept over to his bag which held the precious bottle. He grabbed it quickly and was about to hightail it to the bathroom when Benton's voice froze him in his tracks.

"Carter, what are you doing?"

Carter looked at Benton defiantly. "This is my prescription. I am allowed to take these."

Benton rose out of bed and went over to Carter, grabbing the bottle from his hand. He looked at the bottle, a prescription for Vicodin ES, removed the cap and handed Carter one tablet.

Carter gave a false laugh. "Come on....I had a long plane ride and then slept on a hotel mattress. It won't kill me to take two."

Benton took a deep breath, trying not to get angry. He had not slept well and his stomach was growling. "Carter the prescription is for one pill. Just take it. We have a lot to do today and I for one would like to get some breakfast."

Carter mentally weighed his options for a few seconds, wondering if it was worth it to be more insistent and finally deciding it wasn't. "Fine."

"Do you want to take a shower first or should I?" asked Benton.

"I will," proclaimed Carter. He grabbed his clothes out of the closet, knocking the coat hangers around loudly and stalked off to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. He knew he was acting like a child but just couldn't seem to help himself.

Benton laid back on the bed and decided he had better try to reach Cleo at the hospital. She came to the phone immediately. "What on earth are you doing Peter?" she asked coldly.

Benton rolled his eyes. "Look Cleo, I'm really sorry I didn't get a chance to call you but things were just kind of crazy last night."

"I know, I heard," she stated. "I just don't understand how you ended up in Atlanta. Couldn't you have just put him on the plane?"

Benton could feel his blood pressure rising. He hadn't even been awake for ten minutes and everyone was trying to pick a fight with him. "No Cleo. I could not have done that. Carter was in no state to be tossed on a plane by himself. He is not doing very well right now and I have no idea what would have happened if he came here alone."

"I just don't understand this tie you have with him," Cleo persisted. "You don't even work with him anymore. He ditched surgery. There are other people who work with him who...." her voice trailed off as she noted Elizabeth watching her, a slight frown on her face. "Well I guess you'll just have to do what is best for Carter." she finished up.

Puzzled, Benton wondered why she had changed her tune so suddenly but decided not to pursue it. "Look I'll check in with you later. Once I get Carter settled at the rehab I'll be back, sometime later today or tonight."

"Alright Peter," I hope he's okay. Bye." She hung up the phone almost feeling glad that Carter would be in rehab in another state. She knew that Peter thought highly of him but this was getting ridiculous. Carter was a grown man and he didn't need Peter holding his hand.

Elizabeth walked over to Cleo. "I'm sorry, I couldn't help overhearing. Was that Peter?" How is Carter doing?"

"He's fine Elizabeth." She forced a smile at Peter's ex-lover, whom she really could not stand. "Peter is getting Carter into the rehab today and then he'll be flying back."

"Well, that's good," stated Elizabeth. "I'm glad that Peter went with him. I think he really needed his help."

"Yes...well, I have work to do." Cleo turned away and walked quickly down the hall.

Elizabeth watched her go and wondered what exactly it was that Peter saw in her. Hopefully one of these days he would see the light. He really could do better than Cleo Finch.

Carter was finally able to relax somewhat in the shower. As the hot water beat down on his body he could feel some of the tension ebbing away. He finished his shower feeling markedly better than when he had first awoken. Benton was watching a morning news show on t.v. when Carter came back out again. "Dr. Benton..." he began softly. "I'm sorry about before."

"It's okay, Carter."

"No. It isn't okay," stated Carter. He put his head down, unable to look Benton in the eyes. "I just want you to know that I really appreciate you coming here with me. I know you didn't have to do it and I just wanted to say thank you."

"You're welcome, Carter," Benton replied. "I just want you to be okay."

Carter nodded. "Guess you better get showered before the maid shows up."

"I put the do not disturb sign on the door," said Benton. He noticed that Carter's gaze had wandered and had settled on the prescription bottle which Benton had placed on the night stand. Benton picked up the bottle and his clothes and went into the bathroom.

Carter watched as Benton closed the door behind him. An overwhelming sense of despair overtook him as he leaned his head back against the headboard. He just had no idea how he was going to get through any of idea at all.

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