CATEGORY: JC/PB/LKo/RR Angst
SPOILERS: About a month after "Under Control" anything
after it has been altered.
ARCHIVE: Yes, just let me know.
DISCLAIMER: I do now own the characters of ER I am just borrowing
them for fun.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: To my wonderful editor Jackie and to all my fellow friends
who have supported me. If you liked my past stories then this one is
Comments: Will be appreciated and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
SUMMARY: What happens when John Carter thinks he's having a bad
day? It gets worse.
Carter walked into the admitting area of Grady Memorial Hospital.
Numerous files obscured the counter, and it appeared as if it hadn't
been organized in a long time. An older woman looked up upon his
arrival with not so much as a smile, and pointed her bony finger in
the direction of an exam area.
"The rest of the docs are in Curtain One. I guess they're waiting for
you." She turned her attention back to her crossword, not looking at
him. She adjusted settings on the fan sitting on her desk, and the
wind blew her black, wavy hair in all directions.
"Ah, how do you know that I'm the one they are waiting
"Because, young man, I know the entire staff here and you are not
of Grady's regular doctors. Want to know my little secret about
exceptional mental abilities?" the older woman whispered with her
hand cupping her face.
Carter decided to amuse the receptionist, and moved closer for her to
"You're wearing a lab coat, sweetie. Now go on, Dr. Logan
like people who are late," she told him.
"Well, thanks," he mumbled, as he headed towards the exam room.
Carter didn't bother finding a place to put his bag, and tried to
slip in on the meeting. "No wonder this place is being closed," he
muttered to himself. The hospital was old, apparently built in the
early sixties. Paint was faded on the walls, and the floor was grimy
despite probable numerous cleanings. The facility just didn't look
like it was ever maintained properly, and it was a shame that no one
cared for it.
Carter pulled back the curtain of Exam One, and it nearly fell apart
in his hand as it glided along the rod. The noise was enough to draw
the attention of the others who, by the looks of things, were in the
middle of a meeting. Luka Kovac was leaning on the exam bed, Rocket
Romano was next to him with a scowl on his face, and Peter Benton,
standing in the corner, didn't seem too amused. The only person he
didn't recognize was an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair and
a mustache. The doctor that he wasn't familiar with turned his
attention on Carter without much enthusiasm.
"I presume that you're Dr. Carter," he uttered gruffly.
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry..." Carter began to explain.
"I don't want hear it," the older doctor snapped; then turned his
attention to Romano. "I see that we get all the disciplinary problems
from this little staffing arrangement, eh, Robert?" He sneered at the
bald doctor. Carter watched Dr. Romano stiffen with anger, as Peter
stood up straighter, obviously irritated.
"Dr. Logan, we are here because this hospital is closing its doors in
a few weeks, and your pleasant personality couldn't keep all of your
staff from walking out early. We're here for the patients who would
be affected by a shortage and not to stroke your tail feathers. Are
we clear?" Robert asked icily.
"Yeah, whatever. Just don't screw anything up. I didn't want any of
you here; I had no choice in the matter." Dr. Logan stood long enough
to glare at the doctors surrounding him, and stormed out of the exam
"Well, this is going to be fun," Carter stated with obvious sarcasm.
"Can it, Dr. Carter. You and Dr. Kovac are here to attend to
patients. Peter, you are to take charge of the OR, while I try to
handle the bureaucratic mess that this situation has created. We all
have jobs to do, so let's do them efficiently and with smiles, all
Since none of the men said a word, Romano smiled. "Good. If you need
anything, I'll be upstairs." Without a second look, Robert walked off
in the opposite direction of Dr. Logan.
"Why were we chosen for this assignment?" Luka asked the remaining
"Because we're all on Robert's short list, Dr. Kovac," Peter replied.
Confused, Carter looked innocently at Peter. "I haven't done anything
wrong." Carter had looked up at Peter in time to see him shake his
head as he grabbed several charts from the table in front of him.
Ignoring Carter's bewildered stare, Peter walked away.
"Ummm, Dr. Benton, what have I done lately? Dr. Benton?" Carter asked
again, as his former teacher continued to walk away, silence greeting
his unanswered question.
Luka chuckled. "I think Dr. Benton was just being sarcastic, Carter.
I wouldn't worry about it. Come on, let's look around and get
familiar with where everything is." Luka patted Carter on the
shoulder, and the younger man gave him a brief smile.
"I still don't understand why Dr. Weaver isn't here to handle the
administrative chaos," Luka said, waving his hand in the direction
the two were walking.
"I don't know. I heard something about how Dr. Romano doesn't get
along with Dr. Logan, and he wanted to gloat while his hospital shuts
down around him. What I don't understand is why this place is still
accepting patients to begin with, when most of the staff has walked
out," Carter told the other doctor.
"Just because some of the staff here didn't respect their obligations
to this hospital does not mean we stop treating patients, Dr. Carter.
There are two more weeks before we will be forced to close our doors
because of budget concerns. Even though we are to remain open until
then, many of the staff left and took well paying private practice
positions. Each hospital will send four doctors each day to help
cover shifts. The two of you will be gone in 36 hours, and then I
will have the joy of dealing with staff members from Rush. Don't
worry, the labor shortage will be covered by each hospital in the
city. Know this, we will stay open no matter what, and you will do
your assigned job." Dr. Logan continued to stare at the duo, who were
unnerved that the Chief of Staff overheard their discussion. "Is
there a problem?" he asked with irritation.
"Ah, no sir. We were just..." Carter began.
"Then stop standing around wasting time; go do something useful." Dr.
Carter simply nodded a bit, taken back at such hostility. He headed
in the direction of the admit desk to pick up some charts. Luka
followed, but was still close enough to hear Dr. Logan's disparaging
"For Christ's sakes, I make sure that I didn't spend my remaining
time with Weaver and they send me another cripple instead," The older
doctor said under his breath.
Luka spun around in anger at such disrespectful remarks of a fellow
colleague. It was apparent that Carter had been out of earshot of Dr.
Logan's comments on Carter's lingering limp. 'This man is a doctor,
why would he make such callous statements when it's his job to care
for sick people?' Luka thought. He caught Dr. Logan's attention, and
stormed over to where the administrator was standing.
"I don't want to hear you use such descriptions around any of my co-
workers or patients, you understand?" Luka told the man through
clenched teeth, trying to control his anger.
"Dr. Kovac, I think you misunderstand the chain of authority here. If
you ever talk to me in such a tone, I'll have you up on suspension."
Dr. Logan didn't give Luka time to react and walked away, leaving him
furious. Luka walked back to the admit desk where he overheard Carter
introducing himself to two nurses. He went over to the counter to
make his own introduction, when he saw Carter wave him over.
"Sally, this is Dr. Kovac." Carter was extending his hand in the
direction of a petite young woman with long red hair. She shook
Luka's hand, and it was obvious to Carter that she was checking Luka
out; tilting her head, her eyes scanning him from foot back up to his
"Nice to meet you," Luka replied.
Carter turned his attention to Linda, an older blonde woman. She
looked like she worked out, so it was hard to tell her exact age.
Before he could introduce her as well, she spoke instead.
"And I'm Linda. So, what kind of name is Kovac? Russian, perhaps?"
She asked, even though it was apparent that she didn't care what his
response was. Carter knew the effect foreign accents had on women
sometimes. He smiled in amusement, as Luka looked like he wasn't in
the mood for that kind of attention so early in the morning.
"No, its Croatian." He replied softly.
Carter sensed that Luka maybe needed a little rescuing, so he decided
to help his friend out. "Hey, Luka, want to help me find the lounge
so I can put by bag up?"
"Yeah, I might want to know where to get my next cup of coffee." Luka
turned and followed him down the hall and to the left. They found the
lounge, where Carter hung his bag in an opened locker. He then
rummaged around in what appeared to be a storage locker, where some
of the white lab coats were hanging. He took off his own lab coat and
placed it on one of the hangers.
"It's kind of hot in this hospital for that, don't you think?" Luka
asked while wiping his brow.
Carter shook his head in an affirmative nod. Ever since he walked
into this place it had felt like a damn sauna. His hair was already
sticking to his forehead from sweat, and it was still way too early
in the morning for such heat.
"You're right, I think the air conditioning in this place is broken,"
Carter said, and looked up at Luka to see the man staring at him.
"What?" he asked suspiciously.
"Nothing, I was just wondering what else is wrong with this facility
besides the fact that its Chief of Staff makes Romano look like a
puppy," Luka replied.
"Who knows. I'll be happy when this little transfer is over with."
Carter walked over to the door and held it open for Luka. They both
made their way through, in search for any patient to help in an
effort to pass the time.
Carter was scribbling notations on the variety of cases he had seen
so far. It was the usual variety of colds, broken bones, and the
obligatory drug overdose. Many of the major traumas were being
deviated to County as not to put a strain on the skeleton crew at
Grady. Most of the patients were walk-ins, despite the notices that
were sent out to try to dissuade people from coming unless it was a
desire emergency. A few extra techs and nurses from Mercy arrived,
and went about their duties.
"What is the point of being here?" Carter muttered to himself. He
glanced up to see Peter walking into the lobby. The surgeon had the
same downcast appearance that the rest of the lingering staff had.
"What's with your happy mood?" Carter asked upon seeing Peter's
irritated stance. He had his hands on his hips, and it looked like he
was in search of someone to chew out for an unnamed offense.
"The damn elevator is broken so I took the stairs down. What kind of
hospital can't even keep their elevators running?" Peter replied
Carter shrugged his shoulders and thought about asking him if, at
least, the air conditioning was working properly up there. He decided
not to, and went with a more lighthearted topic.
"So, that exciting in the OR?" 'Big mistake,' Carter thought as soon
as the words left his mouth.
Peter looked at him with an annoyed expression. "There has been one
trauma the entire morning, and the two other surgeons are not the
most conversational people in the world," Peter grumbled.
"Since when did you enjoy conversation?" Carter asked.
"Since when do you..."
Peter was interrupted by shouts for help. Carter bolted out of his
chair to intercept two construction workers having a difficult time
bringing in a third, convulsing, employee.
"Someone get a gurney!" Peter shouted to one of the nurses, as Carter
tried to determine the patient's symptoms. Two nurses brought out a
gurney and the patient was rolled onto it as it was wheeled into a
"What happened?" Carter asked as the patient was attached to a
"He was just standing in the break room when he fell down and started
shaking," one of his co-workers answered anxiously.
"Is there a history of epilepsy or seizures?" Carter asked, as he
tried to hold the man down.
"I don't know," the second worker replied, nervously fiddling with
"Pulse is 140, BP 150/90, and his airway is obstructed," One of the
nurses informed the doctors, while taking off a blood pressure cuff.
"Okay, I'll intubate," Peter responded, as he went to the head of the
gurney. "His throat is swollen, I can't see the cords; we need to
hold him down," Peter ordered.
Sally grabbed his feet as they were shaking and jerking wildly. Linda
struggled to keep the patient's upper body still as she desperately
added her own weight over the patient's chest. Carter attempted to do
the same from the opposite side and bent over as he tried to place
his hands on the patient's shoulders.
"What have we got?" Dr. Logan and Romano came in the room in time to
see the two nurses and Carter unsuccessfully trying to hold the big
man down as his seizures continued. "We have a thirty year old male
with a swollen airway, convulsions for three minutes. Dr. Benton's
intubating and I was about to order phenytoin," Carter replied.
"What's the matter, kid, can't you hold this patient still so he can
be properly intubated? Move aside!" Dr. Logan ordered; as it was
apparent that Carter was having great difficulty keeping the patient
stable enough for Benton to work.
Dr. Logan held onto the big man, as Peter placed the tube down the
patient's throat and established an airway. Peter glanced up at
Carter as he noticeably limped away, his hand to his back. The
dejected younger doctor moved to the corner of the room and watched
as the patient's seizures ceased after the medication had taken
Dr. Romano looked irritated, as Dr. Logan was giving him the fifth
degree concerning something, but Carter was too busy chastising
himself for being inadequate. His range of motion had affected his
ability to handle the trauma effectively, and he had embarrassed
Romano in front of a man that he despised. Carter leaned against the
wall as Romano and Logan walked with the gurney outside; he was
oblivious to the fact that Peter was staring at him.
"Yeah?" Carter responded, surprised that he wasn't alone in the room.
"You okay?" Peter asked.
"I'm okay, if you call being pushed out of the way during a trauma
something to be happy about. I'm sure it impressed the hell out of
Dr. Romano," Carter replied sarcastically.
"Carter, those two are going to be present at anything that can be
turned into something to argue about. This hospital isn't going to
see many patients, and they are going to be sticking their noses into
everything. Two Chiefs of Staff shouldn't be in the ER to begin
"Neither should you," Carter answered.
"What else am I going to do? I was selected for this assignment
because Romano is still pissed about that prescription fiasco, and
Dr. Kovac is here because he did a procedure without Kerry's
permission," Peter tried to reason with him.
"So why am I here?" Carter asked angrily. "Is it because this way I
won't get in the way of any real traumas at County?
"No, Carter, you're a good physician," Peter said matter of factly.
"Yeah, I couldn't even hold that guy down so you could intubate him,"
Carter said out of disgust.
"Carter, that guy weighed at least 280. You're not ready to handle
King Kong. It's going to take some time." Peter looked at his former
student, trying to convey to him some confidence he knew Carter
"I guess you're right. I'm going to do some more chart reviews."
Carter turned around and began to walk off.
"Hey, Carter, you need to give yourself some time. In the mean time,
don't strain yourself and be careful with the bending," Peter told
him in his doctor tone.
"Don't worry, Dr. Benton, I know my limitations." Carter left Peter
in the trauma room and went in search of a place to sit down and
relax for a minute.
Carter wandered down to the cafeteria. It had been confusing locating
it at first, since the one at County was upstairs; but in the older
Grady the dining area was below the admittance floor. John stared at
the lack of variety of lunch choices, and finally settled for a
turkey sandwich and some orange juice. He headed for an empty table,
when he ran into Luka chatting with Sally, the nurse he had met
"What's going on?" Carter asked as he slid into one of the unoccupied
"There's a political rally going on downtown for some art museum's
opening ceremony. Traffic is jammed and all emergency vehicles are
being directed there because there are protesters outside causing
trouble," Sally explained.
"Protesters at an art exhibit?" Carter asked with confusion.
"Apparently the politician is pro-choice, and since the elections are
heating up the city sent a lot of police to keep everything
peaceful," Luka explained. "Look at it this way, that means less
emergencies for us."
"How's that?" Carter questioned.
"It ties up all traffic coming north; Rush and County are on the
other side of the mess and will get whatever units that respond to
calls," Sally interjected.
"So in other words, County is going to be short two doctors and two
surgeons and they are going to be getting an excessive about of
traumas. Unbelievable!" Carter exclaimed, visibly upset.
"Carter, it's only for two days, then Rush replaces us with their
staff. Mark and the others will get by just fine, there are plenty of
people to cover. Why are you so upset?" Luka asked, clearly puzzled
by the level of irritation that Carter was displaying.
"Because I should be back at County, not here because people think I
need to take it easy or something." Carter sat back down in his chair
"I don't understand your line of reasoning, Carter. I don't really
think there was any motivation behind who was selected for this
assignment. I thought it was for some of the problems of late, when
Dr. Romano decided to take a vested interest in the ER. Who knows? I
think your level of patient care has been fine since you returned."
Luka carefully studied Carter's expression. On one hand, he appeared
to concur, but his body language seemed to suggest he wasn't buying
"Has anyone said something to you?" Luka asked, wondering if any of
the staff were concerned. As far as he knew, everything at County had
been running fine, with the exception of the prescription screw up
between Dr. Finch and Dr. Benton. Luka had his own patients to be
concerned with and never noticed if there were some performance
"No, well, except for Dr. Logan," Carter responded.
"Carter, Dr. Logan is a jerk. I wouldn't pay him any attention. I
know Dr. Romano doesn't." Luka chuckled.
"Well I guess you're right. The elevators don't work, the air
conditioning is broken, and the Chief of Staff hates me. What else
could go wrong?" Carter asked, even thought he knew whenever he said
things like that, they always came back to bite him in the ass. Just
when he was about to take that statement back, his beeper went off.
He glanced down at it.
"Looks like I spoke to soon. I've got a patient." Carter saw Luka
getting up, and he motioned for him to remain seated. "It's not
anything I can't handle, if I need your help I'll let you know."
Carter stuffed his hands in his pockets and headed back to the ER.