Lost and Found

AUTHOR: Laura and Michelle
EMAIL: cookcounty@doctorsandnurses.co.uk and ertriv9400@hotmail.com respectively
CATEGORY: JC/LKn (friendship), MG/DR/CH
SPOILERS: "The Storm Parts 1 & 2": Doug Ross leaves County General and moves to Washington. "Sticks and Stones": Lars, an EMT, is shot in retaliation for events that occurred during Carter's ride-along. For a full summary of these episodes, see the alt.tv.er home page at http://www.digiserve.com/er/episodes. There are also some ER plot themes (namely Carol's pregnancy) from the episodes following "Sticks and Stones" that have been integrated into the story.
DISCLAIMER: Most characters belong to Warner Bros. Television. This story is for the enjoyment of ER fans.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Laura (from Australia) and Michelle (from Minnesota) live across the world from each other, but met online through an e-mail list of "Carter-Lucy" fans. Set in the spring of Season 5 (1999), this story expands beyond Carter and Lucy to include the some of the authors' dreams and 'what ifs' for other members of the cast.
SUMMARY: Carter has nightmares following the shooting death of an EMT; Lucy discovers a long kept secret in her mother's attic; Mark and Carter attempt to reunite Doug and Carol after Carol learns she is pregnant.

A gunshot rang out and Dr. John Carter thought he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder. But the only thing he wanted to do was to keep running. Lars was up ahead of him, and Carter had to warn him. Lars was disappearing in a patch of dense fog -- Carter realized he couldn't see more than three or four steps ahead of him.
"Lars!" He called out. "Keep running!"
Carter stopped to catch his breath, however he felt tired, dizzy, as if he was falling to the ground.
Suddenly, Carter sat up, nearly tipping over the cot he had been napping on at work.
The gunshot, the fog, Lars running . . . It had all been a dream.
Yet this bad dream had nothing on real life right now, Carter thought, lying his head back down on the pillow. Lars was dead. This would hurt for a while.
Carter's alarm clock beeped, startling him again. It also made him aware that his shoulder was sore, from sleeping on it wrong the previous night.
Not that he slept very long.

Carter got up and headed to the lounge, where he saw Lucy packing up her things before leaving work.

"Hey," she said softly.
"Going home, I presume?" Carter asked.
"Yes and no," Lucy answered. "I'm stopping home, then I have something I need to do."
"See you Monday then," he replied.
"Yeah. See you then." Lucy thought about asking him how he was dealing with all that had happened the previous day. But she decided she would wait.

The snow was rapidly increasing around Lucy's feet and she was freezing. And worried about Carter. They'd never been the best of friends; she wasn't even sure if they ever would be. Things between them had gotten better after Corrina, but now they were starting to go bad again. Even though she was on her psych rotation, she still ran into him from time to time. "Oh man," It was cold, and she was still a fair way from the El. Lucy was going to spend the weekend with her mother, and she really needed to get home and pack some stuff. She started walking faster and after a few minutes she reached her destination. Lucy paid for her ticket, and made her way up to the platform. Ten minutes after the train was meant to arrive, it finally did. "It's about time," she muttered and hopped on the train, sat down and got out a good book to read on the journey home.

Carter, on the other hand, was still at Cook County. There was no point in going home, Kerry was at work, and he really didn't feel like seeing Roxanne. Ah, Roxanne. She presented a problem as well. Lately, he didn't want to spend time with her. She was wearing him down. Truth be known, she was really getting on his nerves. Pitching her insurance company to anyone who would listen. And she didn't really like talking, if you know what I mean. Unlike Lucy. Lucy, the bumbling med-student. Carter had to admit, when she listened to patients, she really listened. He'd been like that once.
"But the times, they are a changing," Carter said to himself.
"Say what?" Jerry, as usual, wasn't doing any work, but was more interested in the people around him.
"Not a thing, Jer. Not a thing,"
Jerry just shrugged. They sat in silence for a little while longer, before Carter had enough. "Jer, if this place is as slow as it looks, I'm going to catch some shut eye,"
"Yeah again. If anyone needs me, I'll be in Exam 6,"
Chuni, who had just walked in on the tail end of the conversation, had to make a comment. She couldn't resist. "I'll call Lucy, if you want...."

Lucy ripped her attention from her book to make sure she didn't miss her stop. She had a passing thought about Doug and Carol. How sad, she thought. Doug was a nice guy. They seemed to have a great relationship ... Until now. Carol had told her that Doug seemed almost like a stranger to her now.

A little bit later, Kerry said to Carol, "We've got some MVA's coming in. Can you wake up Carter? (pointing to exam room 6)."

"Sure," Carol said, opening the door and turning on the light. "John?"
"Mmm?" Carter answered, squinting.
"It's time to get up. Weaver's orders."
"Want some help?" Carol offered her hand to pull him up.
Carter grabs her hand, sits up, but stares rather blankly into nothing.
"Want some coffee?" Carol asked.
"That's o.k. What do we got coming in?"
"Four MVA victims, none critical as far as we know."

The doctors treated and released two 17-year-old males for bruises and an 18-year-old female for a broken arm. A 19-year-old female had a probable concussion, so she was admitted for observation.

Carol had some time to think. Like Carter, she had not been sleeping well.
Doug was really gone. It was a huge adjustment, which she had not been prepared to make. How could he tell her he loved her and still go? He seemed upset that she wasn't going with him. He felt rejected in a way, too, Carol thought. Never mind. Carol wished Lucy were there. She was such a good listener.

Lucy was already on a bus on the way to her mother's. She was thankful that the snow hadn't delayed the trip. The trip was long enough as it was. She was thinking about Carter, again, and she was worried about him. He had seemed so out of it when she spoke to him in the lounge. "I'll ring him. And Carol," she said to herself as her bus came to a halt. Looking out the window she could already see her mother. She hurriedly packed up her things and rushed out the door.
"Hey mom!" Lucy's mother was about the same height as her, with ash blonde hair tinged with gray and faded blue eyes.
"Hey Luce!" She enveloped her in a big hug. After a few minutes, Michelle Knight let her go. "Come on Luce, let's go home."

Since the three teens from the MVA, nobody else had come in. Carter was sleeping again and Carol was sitting in the lounge, lost in her own thoughts. Doug, mostly. As much as she wanted to hate him for leaving her, she just couldn't. After all they'd been through, and overcome, how could it be over? Just like that. Doug said it wouldn't be over. But he's in Seattle now. A single tear ran down her cheek and her eyes drifted to his locker. His OLD locker, she reminded herself. Right next to hers.
"You bastard," she whispered to herself and broke down crying.

Carter woke up with a start, breathing hard. Another nightmare had snuck its way into his sleep. Why do I even bother? he thought, I barely sleep anyway. He got up and stretched, cracking his fingers. Sleepily, he opened the door and made his way to the lounge. Pausing at the door to look around and see if there were any patients, he heard sobs coming from the inside the room. He quietly opened it, and saw Carol sitting on the floor with her head in her hands, shoulders shaking.
"Carol?" he said, concerned. "Are you ok?" Stupid question, Carter. Does she look okay?
She looked up, trying to regain her composure, but failed, and started to cry again. Silently, Carter sat down and wrapped his arms around her and she fell into his embrace, in need of comfort.
"Shhh, it'll be ok. We're all here for you Carol," he whispered.
Carol didn't say anything for a long time. Carter held her close, almost crying himself from seeing her so sad.
"Carter...thanks," she said. "I think I'm o.k."
"Let me know if you need to talk," he said gently.
"What about you? Are you o.k.?"
He shrugged. "Lars...um...still having a hard time believing what happened...can't sleep too well."
"I'm sorry," Carol said.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
"Come in," Carol called out. When the caller came in, she said, "Hi Mark."
"Hey, I wondered where you two were," Dr. Mark Greene said.
They nodded. Mark wasted no time. "I think it would be ok if you both went home. In fact, I insist," he said.

The next morning Lucy woke up to the sun streaming into her mother's guest room. What a gorgeous morning! She thought to herself. Her mother's house was surrounded by trees, and had quite a serene feeling. The roads were all dirt, and the view from the top of the hill was absolutely beautiful. Before Med School, Lucy loved coming up here and watching the sun set and rise from that very hill. Out in the kitchen, her mother had left her a note saying she had gone to run some errands. I'll be back for lunch, her mom wrote. After Lucy got dressed, she decided she'd head for the attic. Her mom had mentioned she'd like Lucy to go through some things in storage and decide what should be kept. The "things" belonged to Lucy. Her mom had moved when she was in college, and Lucy didn't have time to go through the items back then. Once in the attic, Lucy didn't have any problem locating "her" section of the storage. She saw a purse that she'd used in junior high. A box of dolls and doll clothes, too. One of the boxes was filled with papers and artwork from high school. So many memories, Lucy thought. It's so easy to forget. So many things Lucy thought she had lost. Searching through all the stuff she found her first love letter. "Ah, from Alexander Rosenburg," she said thoughtfully. She remembered the day he had given that to her. It was Valentine's Day way back when she was 15. Alexander had been her first boyfriend and still one of the sweetest guys she had ever dated. They went out for almost 6 months before his parents moved to Australia. Apart from a few letters, she and Alex did not keep in contact. "I wonder what else in here!" She slipped the letter into her pocket, and went about searching.

Now, well into Saturday morning, Carter had just started his 12-hour shift.
He had taken Carol home last night, and they had talked to all hours of the morning.
Carol had told him everything about her relationship with Doug, the highs, the lows and even the in-between. Carter had told her all about Lars, and even gotten on to some past loves over 2 or 3 pots of coffee. The talk was something he really needed, and he could tell that Carol did too.
"Hey Carter, " a voice said behind him.
"Oh, hey Dr. Greene,"
"Carter, how was Carol feeling last night?" he asked. "I rang, but no one picked up."
"Oh, that was you," Carter said, as Mark gave him a strange look. "I stayed with her till about 3am. I think we both needed to talk. Carol more so," he explained.
"Thanks for doing that for her, It's been hard for her, with Doug leaving..."
"And finding out she was pregnant," Carter interrupted.
"She told you?"
"Uh huh!"
"Yeah, so this hasn't been the best couple of months for her," he said, "I just wish there was something we could do."
Carter thought for a minute. "Maybe there is..."

Carol had gotten a few hours sleep after Carter left, but was still up at the crack of dawn. She was thankful that Carter had stayed with her last night. She had broken down again while he was there, and she probably would have anyway, but was glad that he was there to comfort her. Their long chat had made her feel considerably better, and she couldn't wait to get to work.
"Oh man. Now I'm excited about going to work. Please help me!' Carol whispered to herself. She just wanted to be surrounded by her friends, laughing and chatting like her life was perfect. But, of course, it wasn't.
Just as Carol was about to head out and go for a jog, the doorbell rang.
"Who is it?" she yelled.
"Carol honey? It's your mother!"
Oh great, she thought, here comes trouble. "It's open!"
She heard the door open, and the click when it shut. Her mother walked up to her and gave her a big hug.
"Carol, sweetie! How are you doing?"
"I'm fine Mom. Just about to go for a jog,"
"I'm sorry Carol, I should have rung,"
"That's ok,"
"How's my little grandchild?"
"Your little grandchild is just fine. Just missing Daddy," The second she said that, she regretted it.
"Oh, that Douglas! How dare he leave you like this!"
"Mom, we've had this conversation before. He doesn't know,"
"But he just left you!"
"He had to go mom!!" Carol was getting stressed out again. Only last week her mother had started the same conversation with her, and she'd lost count of the amount of times he mother had bad mouthed Doug over the years. She was getting sick of it.
"No he didn't, how dare...."
"DAMNIT MOM!!" Carol yelled. "Doug had his reasons, okay?"
"No Carol it's not okay. He never cared for you. If only you'd married that Tag boy,"
"I don't need this now Mom. You know where the door is, please use it. And don't let it hit you in the back on your way out," she said through clenched teeth, and walked upstairs and into her bedroom. Only when she heard the door shut did she let the tears flow again.

It was nearing lunchtime, and Lucy was still going through the attic. Most of her toys, she decided, she would give to some of the kids in the Pedes ICU, and her old clothes would go to the Salvation Army. She was now on the last corner of the attic, which she knew was where most of the special memories were kept. She had only planned to go through her stuff, but she thought she may as well Look through the rest of it while she was there. Moving box after box, she found really old photo albums, some of her plastic jewelry and other things she thought she'd lost long ago. Right up the back, behind all the boxes and bags, she found her mother's precious jewelry box. As a kid, she'd always admired it, sometimes pretending she was a princess and the box was an expensive gift from a handsome prince.
"Didn't mom say she lost it in the move?" she whispered to herself. Picking it up, she carefully unlatched the lock and opened the lid. The soft chords of music brought back memories for Lucy; as a kid watching her mother put on her make-up and jewelry, showing it off to all her friends...the list went on and on. Inside, there were letters. A lot of letters. Addressed to...her? She'd never seen them before, she was sure of that. Looking at the top one, she could tell it had been opened several times.
Picking up the top letter delicately, like she was afraid it may break, she checked the date on it. The 12th of March, 1982. Flipping it over, she read the return address:
Joe Knight
1425 8th Street West
Apt. 707
Bonnedin, New Jersey
Joe Knight? That was her father. Opening the envelope with urgency, she pulled out the card and flipped it open. Reading it once, then again, slowly and deliberately, taking in every word. Slowly, the tears ran down her cheeks.
Dearest Lucy,
I'm not very good at writing letters, so please bear with me. I am your father. My name is Joe Knight. I don't know how much your mother has told you about me, considering you are only 7, but I thought it was time you knew the story. I was only 19 when you were born. I know your mother was too. My parents made me leave, and never come back. They said I was a disgrace to them. Now, at the age of 26, I only feel disgrace towards myself. I loved your mother, and I still do. You'll probably never know how much it hurt me to leave the both of you. I hope you never have to experience that sort of pain. I want you to know that I didn't leave because I didn't want you, or love you, because I do love you, Lucy. I was a coward, and I should have stood up to my parents. I'll never forgive them, or myself, for leaving you without a father. I also need you to know that I am so, SO very sorry for never trying to find you before now. I suppose I was afraid that it would cause you and your mother more pain, and I still am. I hope that someday you will be able to forgive me.
My love always, to you and your mother,
Your father, Joe.
Lucy's eyes were now red and puffy from crying. She was in shock. How could her mother keep this from her? All these years, she let Lucy build up a hatred towards her father with fake stories and lies. For 24 years, she had believed that her father had left because he couldn't hack it, and he didn't want to be tied down at such a young age. Now she finds out not only was that not the case, but her father had tried to contact her. Lifting out the rest of the letters and sifting through them, she saw they were all from her father, to her, and that there were at least 15 envelopes all together. Starting with the top envelope, she read through each and every letter. More apologies, more explanations, more pain. "It's excruciating, like someone is ripping your heart out of your chest," he said in a letter describing the pain of leaving his loved ones. There were even a few birthday cards in there, going up until she was 12. That card was the last thing from her father. Frantically she searched the nearby boxes for more envelopes, but to no avail. The last contact from her father was a card for her 12th birthday.
Dear Lucy,
Happy Birthday, my dear. This is the last you'll ever hear from me. I'm guessing after 5 long years, and since you haven't contacted me, that you don't want to hear from me. I'm still sorry for all the pain and suffering I have caused, and I hope that someday, deep down in your heart, that you will be able to forgive me for causing you such grief. My love now and forever,
Placing the letter on her lap, she let the tears consume her, again.

Carter had worked a short shift. When he got home, he decided to do what he had been thinking about all day. He called Doug Ross.
"Hello?" Doug answered. He had stopped home for an early lunch.
"Is this Doug?" Carter asked.
"Yes," Doug answered. "Carter?"
"That's me," Carter replied, pleased that Doug recognized his voice. Or maybe Doug has caller ID, he thought.
"Well hey Carter, how's life? You still living with Weaver?" Doug asked.
"Yes I still live in Kerry's basement. But I didn't call to talk about my life."
"There's something you need to understand Doug," Carter continued. "You don't know how hard your being gone has been on Carol. She needs you."
"Wait a minute," Doug said. "Listen Carter, I know you're a friend, I know you care, but this is between Carol and myself."
"Not anymore," Carter said. "She told me everything ... well maybe not EVERYTHING, but enough to ..."
"Carter." Doug interrupted.
"Please stay out of this."
Carter heard a click. Doug had hung up.

Lucy didn't know how long she'd been sitting in the attic when she heard the door shut downstairs. Grabbing the letters, she hurriedly and angrily ran down the steps from the attic, and straight to her room. She was so angry and upset with her mother, she knew she couldn't stay there any longer. And she knew she'd probably never forgive her either, for robbing her of the chance to have her father in her life. Quickly, she stuffed all the clothes and accessories that she had unpacked back into her suitcase and left her room. In the kitchen, she could see her mother busily making lunch, as happy as can be. She dropped her suitcase on the floor with a loud thud, which made her mother jump.
"Lucy dear, you startled me!" she exclaimed, "What on earth did you drop...."
She stopped when she saw Lucy's face. Her mascara had run, and left streaks down her face and her eyes were swollen. "Lucy, what is wrong?" She moved quickly to Lucy's side, but Lucy wouldn't let her go near her.
"What's wrong? WHAT'S WRONG?" Lucy yelled, thrusting the letters in her mother's face. "This is what's wrong," Eyeing her carefully, Michelle Knight took the letters from her daughter's hand and looked over them, but already knew what they were.
"Oh dear Lord. Where did you find these?" The shock was evident on her face.
"Does it matter? YOU LIED TO ME!!! For 24 years you looked at me and LIED!! How could you?" Lucy's gaze was accusing, and her eyes full of spite.
"Honey, I thought it was best...."
"BEST? Best for who mom?" Her eyes filled with tears again. "Best for YOU! And only you,"
"No, sweetie...I thought...I thought it'd be best if you never knew,"
Michelle was stammering, and at a loss for what to say to her daughter.
"Yeah, well guess what? You thought wrong. And I even doubt you did think about me when you made this decision!"
"That's not true! It isn't!"
"Isn't it? You KNEW I wanted a father, more then ANYTHING else in this world!! You knew I wished he would come back and see me!!! Hell, even write me letters!! He did, and you hid them from me!" Lucy was seething. She grabbed the letters and her suitcase. "No. You were only thinking of yourself."
"Lucy, no, that isn't true!" Her mother was in tears. "I would never hurt you intentionally!"
"Well, you did." She stated flatly. "I never, EVER want to see or hear from you again, you understand me? Never." With that, she walked out the door and slammed it shut. Lucy rode a taxi to the bus station. Once on the bus, she tried reading her book again, but she was much too anxious. My dad thinks I hate him, she fretted. How can I undo what my mother has done! How can I find him now?

That evening, Carter was bumming around his apartment. He had no idea whether he'd gotten anywhere with Doug. But it was worth a try! Someone else on his mind was Lucy. She wasn't due back in town until tomorrow, but Carter thought he'd call her place just to leave a message.

The phone rang and Lucy answered.
"Lucy? John Carter!" he said politely.
"Hey Carter."
"You're back early."
"Don't remind me. I had an argument with my mom." She sounded a little depressed.
"Was it serious?" he inquired.
"Yes but, I probably should have stayed and talked to her. But I was so mad. I'm still so mad at her." Lucy was definitely still upset over what happened.
"Would you like to get together and talk about it?" Carter asked.
"I would," Lucy answered without any hesitation. "I would really like that."

Carter had mentioned his attempt to talk to Doug to Mark, who decided it was his turn. Setting down his coffee, he picked up the phone and dialed Doug's home number in Seattle. 'Man, I really hope he hasn't converted to being a Trailblazers fan,'
"Doug Ross,"
"Hey Doug, it's Mark. What's new?"
"Hey Mark! Not much, I'll tell ya that for nothing,"
They made meaningless chit chat for about ten minutes as Mark had no idea where to start with this conversation. he knew he had to tell him about Carol, and how she was feeling but really had no way of starting the conversation. "Uh, Doug? We really need to talk,"

Carter had been sitting in Doc Magoo's for about 10 minutes when Lucy walked in. Giving her a little wave to let her know he was here, he watched her make her way over to the table. He could tell, just by looking at her walking towards him, that the fight with her mother had really taken its toll on her emotions. Her step had no bounce, as it usually did, and she just didn't look like the Lucy he saw almost everyday.
"Hey there," he said softly as she sat down.
"Hey Carter." A waitress came over with two cups of coffee.
"I ordered one for you," he said at Lucy's quizzical look.
She smiled slightly. "Thanks." She took a sip. "How are you holding up?"
Carter sighed. "Well, I've been better, but I'll be fine. How about you?
Lucy stared into her cup for a few moments. "I have definitely been better,"
"Wanna talk about it? It'll make you feel better."
"I suppose," She took a sip of her coffee and proceeded to tell Carter everything.

"So, Doug, Carol really needs you here," Mark had told Doug everything that had happened since he left, with Carol breaking down in the lounge and Carter's talk with her. The only thing he hadn't mentioned was Carol's pregnancy.
"I don't mean to sound harsh, but this really is none of your business,"
"Doug, it's my business when it involves Carol, because, since you're not here, I'm the one she turns to. I'm the one she tells everything. I'm the one left to pick up the pieces, so, Doug, it IS my business, whether you like it or not,"
Doug didn't say anything for about two minutes, and Mark wasn't sure he was going to talk again. Just as he was about to hang up and leave him with his thoughts, Doug spoke.
"All I do is cause her pain, Mark! I almost cost her the clinic, which is one of the few things that brings her joy, ruined her career, practically destroyed her relationship with her mom."
Mark was shocked. He knew Doug better than most people. But he never knew that he felt this way.
"Doug," he paused. He wanted to say this right, but knew he probably wouldn't be able to. "All that may be true, to some extent, but she still loves you and she needs you. You have to be there for her,"
"I want to be, but I can't."
"Why Doug? It's not like you to give up like this."
"There is nothing there for me. You can barely put up with me, Kerry's out to get me, Anspaugh couldn't care less that I left."
"God, Doug, it's always, you you you. What about Carol, huh? After all the shit you put her through, you just up and leave."
"She doesn't need me anyway. What would she want with me? All I do is hurt her. You must know that, Mark!"
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself Doug. You know she loves you,"
"But I only hurt her. I don't want her to hurt anymore,"
"And by leaving, that doesn't hurt her? You have got it all wrong Doug.
Wake up and get your butt back here and help your girlfriend,"
"Help her? With what?" This time, Mark didn't answer. "Mark? Help her with what? What's happened?"
"It's not my place to say. Look, I'll make you a deal. Just come down here for a few days. If, after that, you still feel you have to be in Seattle, then
I'll let you go without a single word. Ok? But I think you'll want to stay."
Doug was a little bit worried, but also knew that Mark would never let anything bad happen to Carol. He could probably get a few days off, and he really did want to see Carol, and it would get Mark and Carter off his back.
"Ok, you have yourself a deal."

Monday was a strange day in the ER. There were some cases that just blew everyone's mind. For example, a man had fallen at a construction site - from a pretty high elevation - and yet he suffered no head injuries. He shattered one of his legs, which was bad enough, Mark thought, but gee, this guy was lucky. He was awake and making small talk with the nurses.

"Guess what, Carter?" Mark said during break-time in the lounge. "Doug is on his way here tonight."
"Great work!" Carter replied.
"You look like you're feeling better," Mark added.
"Yes, thanks. It's a new week. But wow, what a day so far, huh?"
Lucy walked in. Her shift was starting in 10 minutes. "Hey guys, what's up?"
"Doug's coming to visit," Mark answered.
"There's the perky girl I know!" Carter greeted Lucy with a smile.
"How did you guys convince him to come?" she asked.
"It's a long story," Mark said. "Well, I'm done taking my break. I'll catch you two later!"

Lucy and Carter were actually alone in the lounge.
"Have you been sleeping better?" Lucy asked Carter.
"Lots better since we talked Saturday night," Carter said.
"Well I have a confession to make. Talking to you helped so much. I just know that even though things are hard, they are going to work out somehow." Lucy said in an appreciative tone.
"Would you be interested in my confession?" Carter was blushing a little.
"Oh my gosh. You aren't thinking..." She recognized that look in his eyes from the night of the bus/snow plow accident in February. Lucy had to admit to herself she was surprised they were having this conversation.
"Well, actually I'm thinking it would be nice if you and I could spend a little more time together. I know I backed off a couple months ago, but I know that the way things are set up now it would be different."
"You mean you wouldn't get in trouble." Lucy was totally onto what he was saying.
"Hmmm... I'll have to think about this," Lucy answered, trying to sort out the rush of emotions in her head. "I wouldn't want to do this for the wrong reasons."
Inside, she was feeling excited that this gorgeous, generally nice guy showed an interest in her. But she also felt strongly that having been through a lot lately, she might be going to him simply because she needed the support.
"Well, go to work and let me know later," Carter seemed to understand.
Lucy went to her locker first to drop of her stuff and grab her uniform. She then headed to the ladies' room.
Meanwhile, Carter headed to the desk to see about his next patient.

Carol finished her shift in the mid-afternoon. She felt like people were staring at her, like everyone felt bad for her. She didn't want their sympathy. She just wished there was some way she could have convinced Doug to stay in Chicago. He was her one true love, that she knew for sure, and she knew she needed him but wasn't going to let anyone know just how much.

Later that evening, Mark met up with Doug at the baggage claim in the airport.
"Carter would have come, too, but he had plans," Mark said to his friend.
"That's o.k. We spoke on the phone a few days back," Doug replied. "Speaking of Carter, did he ... um ... did he and Lucy ever...?" Doug asked.
Mark had no clue what Doug was talking about. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"Oh, well, there was a rumor going around about the time I left that they had made out in one of the x-ray rooms."
"I guess I was out of the loop," Mark replied. "Carter and Lucy, huh? Very interesting concept."
Doug saw his luggage and grabbed it. They headed back to Mark's place.

Almost 2 hours later Carter and Lucy were still on their shift, and they weren't even a quarter of the way through. The ER was very quiet tonight and they hadn't had a patient in almost half an hour. Carter had just gotten through telling Lucy about Doug coming down, and about Carol being pregnant.
"You're kidding right?" Lucy responded as John shook his head. "Wow! Carol's pregnant? That's fantastic! Isn't it?"
"I'm not sure. Mark told me they had been trying for a while, but since Doug's living in Seattle...it might not be so good for Carol." Carter looked over at Lucy. She was staring out the window and her eyes were glazed over. "Lucy? Lucy, are you alright?" He got no response, so he tapped her on the shoulder.
"What? Oh, um.. yeah, I'm fine Carter." She discreetly wiped at her eyes.
"That sounded very much like a Scully line to me," A blank look from Lucy. "You know, Dana Scully? The X-Files?" A look of understanding dawned on her face. Wanting to make her laugh, he put on his best female voice. "I'm fine Mulder! Even though I just got abducted by aliens and my sister was killed by people who were trying to kill me and I had a daughter who turned out to be an alien human hybrid and I didn't even give birth to her!" Lucy chuckled at Carter. "You're an idiot Carter!"
"Guilty as charged!" They shared a smile. "Now, are you going to tell me what's wrong?"
"I was just thinking, what if my mother went through what Carol is? You know, except for the whole trying for a baby thing. I've never really thought about what my mother went through!" A few tears rolled down Lucy's cheek. "How selfish am I? She gave up her life to look after me and all I can do is get angry at her for doing what she thought was best for me? She was just trying to protect me,"
Carter put his hand under Lucy's chin and forced her to look at him.
"Lucy, you are the least selfish person I have ever met!"
"What about all those things I said! Carter, I told her I never wanted to see her again!!"
"You are the most kind and caring woman, PERSON, I know! And Luce, you were upset and understandably so! Your mother would never hold what you said against you. You are a fantastic person Lucy, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise."
Lucy was moved by Carter's words. No one, apart from her mother, had ever told her something like that and made her feel special. Too overcome to speak, she leaned over and buried herself into Carter's chest. Carter held on to her and let her cry.

"You think I should go alone?" Doug asked Mark at about 7:30 p.m.
"I think you two need your time to talk by yourselves," Mark replied. "She told me she's planning to be home tonight."
"Could I call her first?"
Doug half-expected Carol to say she couldn't see him, but she agreed to let him come over.
When he got there he definitely noticed that she looked different, somehow. Not that she was any less beautiful, but she seemed much more tired than he remembered.

"Come in, Doug. I have to ask," she said as they were sitting down on her couch. "Did Mark have anything to do with you coming here?"
Doug wished she would not have asked that question. "Does it matter how I got here?" he asked.
Carol sighed. "I am glad you came, Doug. I'm just...wondering if you came because you care or if you came because Mark asked you to."
Doug looked uncomfortable.
"Forget it," Carol continued. "Don't answer that. I think I know."
"You shouldn't make assumptions," Doug protested. "I'm sorry. I didn't come over to argue."
They sat in silence for a couple minutes.
"So how is it out there?" she asked him.
"O.k. Work's going fine. It's kinda lonely. You?"
"It's been hectic lately. You know how the ER is. Busy busy busy! Don't seem to stop. On the move every second of the day!"
Carol was rambling. Doug knew this meant she was both angry and upset or she was hiding something, but had a feeling it was a bit of both.
"Carol.." He moved to sit in front of her and grabbed her hands. "I'm so, so sorry about how I left things. It wasn't fair to you. I just knew...I knew I had to leave, you know? It was one of those feelings you just know you have to act upon. But, being here now, with you, I think I made the wrong choice." Carol looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "I don't know if you would take me back, and I don't deserve you to. But I don't belong in Seattle. This is where I belong."
Tears started to run down Carol's face, and Doug lightly brushed them away.
"Plus, there's this woman where I work that makes Kerry Weaver look like a little angel!'
Carol and Doug both started to chuckle. Carol looked into Doug's eyes and knew he was telling the truth -- He was going to move back to Chicago.
"I have been dreaming of this for so long. I just...I can't believe you're actually here, telling me this!! It's unbelievable"
They looked into each other's eyes for a moment before Doug leaned in to kiss her. As their lips were about to touch, Carol pulled away.
"Doug..." She got up and moved away from him. "Before you decide to come back, there's something you really need to know,"
His face fell. "You've met someone else?"
She turned sharply and looked at him and started laughing. "No, Doug I haven't met someone else!"
"So...what is it then?"
She took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant Doug. I'm pregnant with your child."

Mark was sitting at home, alone as usual. He was thinking about Carol and Doug. He knew even though Carol was angrier than he had ever seen her, she would forgive him in a nano-second. Doug had always had that effect on her. It was the same effect Susan had always had on him. He hadn't thought of Susan in a while..okay, that's a lie. He tried not to think of Susan but she was always in his head and in his dreams. His dreams were so vivid, sometimes when he woke he was certain she was sleeping next to him or he was going to see her the next morning. He sometimes wondered if they still had that connection. Where he could tell exactly what she was thinking and feeling without her saying anything.
He got up from his position on the couch and got a packet of barbecue chips out of the cupboard. On his way back to the couch he looked at the photo he had of Susan and himself on his bookshelf. It was one of the pictures from the photo booth the night they both went on blind dates and had somehow ended up together. He had memorized every word she had written on the back of the photos before she had left.
Dear Mark,
For so many years you have been my best friend. The person I could count on to be there for me, laugh and cry with me and love me unconditionally for who I am. You never wanted me to change or be someone I wasn't. You were there for me all throughout the Chloe saga and supported me when I was trying to adopt Susie. You made me laugh when I thought I could never laugh again.
I'm so sorry I have to leave you, but I need you to understand this is something I have to do. I never wanted to hurt you Mark, but I need this. Besides, I'm only a phone call away!! Or an e-mail! And Phoenix isn't that far. We can always visit.
I love you Mark,
My love and friendship always,
At the bottom she had included her personal e-mail and Chloe's number in Phoenix. He had read it so many times he had even memorized the P.S.
Deciding if Doug and Carol could be happy, he could be too. He picked up the phone and dialed the number that was so familiar to him yet he had never called it. There was a click on the other end of the phone and seconds later he heard the voice he had never forgotten.
"Hello, this is Susan."
"Susan? Hi, It's Mark Greene."

It was her night off, but Lucy felt she just had to call Carter and tell him she was o.k. She also wanted to tell him that she had talked with her mom.
"So you and your mom made up?" Carter seemed happy for her.
"Yes, we talked. I told her that I got super emotional about my dad's letters and didn't really think about what I was saying. I told her that she's a good mom and that I'm thankful for everything she's done for me.
"There's something else we talked about," Lucy remarked. "I've learned that through our losses, we discover and appreciate what we truly have."
Carter added, "But I can see you're also thinking that life's game of lost and found can be a pretty tough journey."
"That's why it's good not to go it alone, Carter. I've decided my answer to your offer. I've decided it would be good if we spent more time together. I know we don't know whether it -- I mean 'us' -- will work out. But it's worth a try!"
"I feel the same way. Thanks for ... waiting until I was ready."
"Sure thing Carter. Listen, I've got to go. But thanks for all your help. See you soon!"
Carter smiled and responded, "I sure will!"

The End

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