Maybe Hope: A post scene to Homecoming

AUTHOR: Kristen
SPOILERS: Season 7, Homecoming
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was done quickly as the scene unfolded in my head. This has not been edited, but still try to enjoy it. I could not shake the look on Carter's face during the season opener so I wrote this in response.
SUMMARY: A late night visit after Carter returns to Atlanta.

He sat there, alone, and in the dark. His apartment was messy, the dishes stacked in the kitchen, food dried and stuck on from three months ago. Clothes strewn on the bedroom area floor and the general clutter of the room only served to reflect the turbulent mind of its owner. He opened the door and sagged into his couch, lost in thought. He knew that eating was something that should be considered, but the thought was abandoned at the notion of it being too much effort.

Normally he would think that it would feel nice to be back home, but that rationale was absent within him, the lonely apartment only reminded him of the reasons why he was there in the first place. He took out a cigarette and lit the end of it and took a long, savoring drag on it, except that the smoke that filled his lungs did not give him any pleasure or comfort. It was something to do and the only habit that was made to be broken.

John stared at the burning ashes contemplating their symbolic meaning when he heard a faint knock on the door. He turned his head not bothering at answering it, wondering who it could be paying him a visit tonight. He didn't bother opening any mail during his stay and the only message he got when he left the clinic was from the one person who did not even bother to pick him up at the airport.

The knocking continued and slowly John gathered enough energy to drag himself to the door and see who it was. Without giving it a second thought he undid the lock and pulled open the door. Standing there looking like a mixture of relief and nervousness was the man who had dropped him off at the rehab center.

"Hey." Peter said quietly.

"Hi." Carter replied somewhat uneasily.

The surgeon looked at him expectantly crossing his arms in front of him not knowing what else to do with them. John stood there as well trying to engage the silence and finally parting the door even further. He stepped back in a gesture to indicate for his co-worker to come in.

Peter followed Carter into his living area, since the doctor lived in a small studio. Carter turned on one of the small lamps on the coffee table and sagged back into his couch absently.

Peter sat in the chair opposite the younger doctor and fidgeted with his hands. "You look better, Carter." He said only referring to the physical aspect of his friend, but not his demeanor.

"Thanks, I feel better," Carter, replied sounding rehearsed.

Peter stared down at his shoes for a moment and looked back up when he spoke. "I'm sorry I did not pick you up at the airport, we got slammed with multiple traumas right when I was walking out." Peter said sounding genuinely apologetic.

John shook his head, his voice small and sincere. "That's okay, Dr. Benton, I did not expect you to. It wasn't a big deal."

Peter heard the words but recognized the hidden cadence to the voice. "I told you I would and I meant it." Peter clasped his hands in front of him, "There was near riot at the hospital today and..."

John gave him a half smile, "Yea, I know. I saw the police coming in when I picked up my jeep."

Peter stirred in his seat. "Why didn't you drop by?"

John bowed his head and then leaned back in his seat. "Just didn't feel like I should, ya know,... I, didn't feel like I belonged there." Carter faced his mentor his expression impassive.

Peter straightened up when he spoke his voice genuine, "Of course you belong, Carter, I told you we would support you when you came back. You're a great doctor, none of us hold you...

Carter stood up abruptly, "You held me in your judicial light three months ago and I'll never me able to live that down. One of the things I learned in there was how screwed up I had become and how disappointed I made everyone. Well I'm sorry I didn't seek anyone's help and I'm sorry I didn't live up to everyone's high standards. I guess John Carter isn't the perfect person that people became to believe."

John grabbed his pack of cigarettes and pulled out a smoke and lit. He took another drag and stared at his mentor.

Peter sighed; he didn't know it was going to be this difficult. He had the hopes that Carter would be miraculously healed in Atlanta and return as the bright and cheerful doctor that he became accustomed to. Sadly and realistically, Peter realized that Carter had been too injured to ever fully recover.

"You now you shouldn't smoke," was the only thing Peter could think of to say.

John laughed bitterly and tapped the end of his cigarette in an ashtray on his coffee table. "Yea, but it is the only vice I have left."

"Maybe it's your last act of defiance." Peter said hit tone taking on that hint of disapproval.

John cocked his head and pondered it for a second, "Well maybe you're right, but maybe it's all I have left."

Peter was starting to get irritated at this side of his friend. This Carter was bitter and resentful and he needed to understand that sometimes when help is forced upon someone no matter how unpleasant the circumstances, it was still done out of care.

"Carter, you were sent to Atlanta so you could back and find yourself again."

John steeped up to Peter his emotions whirling inside his head. "I don't even know who I am anymore. Do you have the guidebook to find the old me? Because if you do I would really love to see it." Despite the anger in his words, Carter's voice was edging on the pleadful.

Peter could see his friend's anger persuade crumbling and he wasn't about to leave him like he was forced to in Atlanta. "I'm sorry it seemed like you were abandoned, but it was the best way for you to face your problems."

John didn't know how to respond to Peter's words of apology, he was ready to wage a war of bitter emotions, to vent his welled up anger. Perplexed, he crushed the cigarette in the tray and pulled out another one. His hands shook slightly from the stress, defeated, he threw the pack back down to the table.

"I really wish I was the eager, sensitive person you once knew, Dr. Benton, but I really don't know if that person still exists." Carter whispered, his face withdrawn.

Peter's chest hitched his mind telling him to say a thousand different things. "Carter, that person was made of many different aspects, deep inside here," Peter pointed to John's heart, "It's buried right here, but I'm willing to help you find it again. Your thoughtfulness, your strength, and will are right there. You wouldn't have survived all of this if it wasn't."

John looked away unsure whether to place trust in those words, or more importantly in himself. He shrugged his defiance slipping a little. "Maybe, after a while, it'll come back." His face no longer impassive, John held back the wave of emotion overwhelming him. Most of his thoughts and feelings were still confusing, but one thing he did feel trying to overcome all the others, was the voice of hope.

John wiped at his face, reminding himself whom he was standing in front of, "I'll try for you."

Peter shook his head thoughtfully, "No, you'll try for yourself, because you're worth it."

Seeing his friend's head nod unconsciously, Peter smiled slightly knowing that something had been accomplished tonight. "I'd only do this for you, Carter." Benton pulled his friend into a hug, not an over emotional one, but one filled with love and friendship.

John accepted the embrace his mind slightly clearer. "Thanks for everything." He whispered.

"Not a problem, man." Peter replied.

Fanfiction Home