New Beginnings

AUTHOR: Melissa Larkin
CATEGORY: Friendship/General
SPOILERS: None -- it happens after "A Simple Twist of Fate" in season 8
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Susan, Abby, Luka, or anything on ER!
SUMMARY: Susan and Abby become friends following Abby's attack.

Susan Lewis unlocked the door to her apartment and turned on the light. "Excuse the mess," she began. "I've lived here for five months and I haven't really unpacked yet." Abby Lockhart followed Susan into her apartment and looked around.

"It's okay, Dr. Lewis," Abby replied. Susan smiled as she took off her coat.

"Abby, please, call me Susan." Susan motioned to the sofa. "Won't you have a seat? You really should relax." Abby nodded and sat down on the sofa. She pushed her hair out of her face.

"This is a nice place," she said quietly. Susan shook her head.

"It'll be nicer once I get everything unpacked. I haven't really had the time, with work and all..." Susan's words followed her as she walked into the kitchen. "I'll make you some tea, all right?"

"Thanks," Abby replied. She heard Susan moving around in the kitchen, filling the tea kettle with water, and tried to feel calm. It was no use. How could anyone feel calm after what Abby had just gone through? She went to the door and made sure it was locked. Susan entered the living room, carrying a pair of pajamas.

"I think these should fit you," she said. Seeing the look on Abby's face, Susan was concerned. "Are you okay?"

"Just paranoid," Abby said sadly. "I was making sure you'd locked the door." Susan smiled, trying to comfort Abby.

"I did. The deadbolt is on too," she said reassuringly. "Abby, you're safe here. Brian Westlake can't find you."

"Not tonight, anyway," Abby answered. She knew she would always look over her shoulder after the attack that had just happened a few hours earlier. Abby sat on the sofa again, this time with Susan next to her. "Has anything like this ever happened to you?"

"No," Susan answered. "But can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Abby replied. Susan tried to choose her words carefully.

"What happened tonight, to you...the attack...was this the first time something like that had ever happened to you?" Abby took a deep breath.

"To me, yes. But not to someone close to me." Abby hugged her knees up to her chest. "I grew up in a very abusive house. My father used to beat my mother. Once my brother Eric got involved and my dad nearly broke his arm." Susan felt instantly sympathetic for Abby. Sure, she'd grown up with Cookie and Henry and Chloe, the poster family for dysfunction, but she'd never been beaten.

"I'm sorry," Susan replied quietly. She really didn't know what to say to Abby.

"It's okay," Abby sighed, wiping a stray tear away from her eye. "When they finally got divorced, I thought things would be better. But they weren't." Abby looked at Susan. "If you don't mind, Susan, I really don't want to talk about this now."

"It's all right," Susan assured Abby. "I won't force you to talk about anything you don't want to." Susan rose and went to the kitchen, filled a bag with ice, and handed it to Abby. "Here, this will help the swelling go down."

"Thanks," Abby replied softly. She still couldn't believe that Susan was being so nice to her. Having people care about her was something new to Abby. After the less-than-idyllic childhood she'd had, she had learned to not expect much from others, only heartbreak.

"Listen, you've had a rough night. You take my bed, I'll sleep on the pull-out," Susan offered. She smiled and added, "I won't take no for an answer." A small smile flashed across Abby's face.

"I really appreciate everything you're doing for me," she said, and blushed. "I've never really had any female friends."

"You have one now," Susan answered. "If you ever need to talk, about anything, I'm here."

"Thank you," Abby said, for the dozenth time that night. "Can I ask you something personal?"

"Sure," Susan replied. Abby fiddled with the bag of ice and looked at Susan.

"I heard that you were engaged when you lived in Phoenix. Why didn't you get married?" Susan sat back on the sofa and sighed.

"You know when something doesn't feel right and you try to ignore your gut instinct?" Abby nodded. "I tried to do that with Keith, but it turns out that my instinct was right. I found out that he was cheating on me just a few months before we were to get married."

"What a creep," Abby said. "It's good that you ended the relationship though."

"It was one of the toughest yet easiest choices I've ever made," Susan replied. "I really did love him, but I couldn't marry someone who was cheating on me. I want the happy family: a husband, kids, maybe even a dog. It wasn't right with Keith, but hopefully someday I'll find the right guy." Susan smiled at Abby. "I want a guy who looks at me the way that Luka looks at you." Abby blushed again.

"It's that obvious?" Susan laughed.

"Oh, yes! Did you see how concerned he was about you tonight?" Abby nodded.

"I did," she answered. Abby yawned and Susan could tell that she was exhausted.

"Let's get you to bed," she said. Abby rose from the couch, took the pajamas that Susan had loaned her, and left to change. Susan made up the pull-out sofa for herself to sleep on. Abby reappeared a few moments later.

"Susan, thank you again, for everything," she said, and hugged Susan. "It means a lot to me to find someone that cares."

"You're welcome. Let me know if you need anything, okay?" Abby smiled at her newfound friend and walked to the bedroom. "Good-night."

"Night, Abby. Sleep well," Susan said as she laid on the sofa and covered herself with a blanket. Abby closed the door to the bedroom and got into bed. Even though her face was swollen and she would have to bear the bruises for a few days, she found comfort in the fact that she had found a good friend. Abby laid her head down and looked out the window at the starry sky. "Thank you," she said, and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

~~The End~~

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