Second Chance: It Sure Has Been Awhile

AUTHOR: Kitchen_Sink5
SPOILERS: None really, it isn't set in a specific time
ARCHIVE: Please ask me first!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters, blah blah blah
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Much thanks to Bekah, aka LL24, who provided great inspiration for this story - You rock, girl!
SUMMARY: Carter meets up with his old friend, Grace, a girl who he never could find a way to tell her that he loved her. Now that she's back, it seems that he might get a second chance. But nothing's ever as simple as it seems

"One coffee please." Carter said as he stood at the coffee stand. It was a Monday morning, and getting his coffee was the only thing standing between him and work.

"Here you go," the man behind the counter said as he handed over his coffee and change.

"Thank you." He said and carefully took a sip, moving to the side to stand for a moment, when a voice behind him interrupted his thoughts.

"John Carter - is that really you?" A soft female voice asked in wonder.

He recognized the voice immediately as he quickly turned around. His hunch had proved right, for he immediately recognized the face too. *Man it's been ages...* he thought as he smiled in shock. Her name was Grace Micheals - she had been a great friend during high school and college. But when he went to med school, she left for California, and they hadn't seen each other since.

"Grace? Oh my god, what are you doing in Chicago?" Carter beamed.

"I just moved here about a month ago....I didn't think that you still lived here, or else I would have looked you up. How are you?" She brushed a strand of her brown hair behind her ear.

"I'm doing just fine....Where are you working now?"

"I'm over at Anderson PR....I just started there two weeks ago. How about you - You're still a doctor, right?"

"Yep - I'm at County General now." He looked at his watch and informed her with regret. "Which is where I need to get right now.....Um, maybe we can talk later?"

"How about dinner tonight - when are you off?"

"Six - do you want to meet me over at County?" He asked with a grin.

"Sure I'll meet you then. Who would have thought.....A date with the famous John Carter." She smiled, and he remembered how much he had missed her.

"Okay bye." Carter walked the rest of the way to the hospital, feeling as light as air. He walked through the doors and almost ran right into Dave.

"Geez Carter, did you win the jackpot or something?" Dave joked

"No I just saw one of my friends that I haven't seen in years." He explained.

"Must have been a girl.....A pretty one. You're practically floating." Dave smirked, then raised his voice jokingly. "Come back Carter - Return to Earth!"

"Look Dave - It's Deb - fetch." He said as if he was telling a dog to fetch a stick. "Go talk to her."

"Fine, I'll go talk to her....But only because you're making me!" He said with a grin and walked over to Deb.

The day passed quickly, almost in a blur. Carter went to the lounge and gathered his stuff. He walked over to the front desk, and saw Dave talking to Grace. He remained unseen to observe their conversation - which he thought would be interesting.

"Excuse me? Can you help me?" Grace asked as she stood in front of the desk.

"I'm sure I can help you." Dave said in a not-so-subtle tone as he slightly raised his eyebrows.

Carter watched as Grace rolled her eyes and replied. "If you're so sure that you can help me, then can you tell me where John Carter is?"

"Oh - you're looking for Carter?" Dave questioned.

Carter revealed himself by stepping out from behind the wall, and joined the conversation. "Yes, she certainly is looking for me."

"Hey Carter - sorry, I didn't know that she belonged to you." Dave said as he walked away.

"Sorry about that." Carter apologized. "Dave is extremely.........."

"Flirtatious?" Grace guessed.

"Not exactly the word I was going for, but it'll do." He smiled. "So - where to?" "There's this Italian place....Excellent food. I brought my car."

"Sounds great." He replied as they walked out the door.

Before he knew it, they were there and had ordered. While they waited for their food, the air was filled with silence. Both of them tried to break it by speaking at the same time.

"You first." He declared

"Alright. So where are you with medicine now? Last I heard you were thinking about going into plastic surgery." She inquired

"I can't believe I ever wanted to go into that." He said sheepishly. "Anyway, after I graduated I did an internship in surgery. By the end of my intern year, I realized how much I loved emergency medicine. So I switched over and repeated my internship only that time in emergency medicine. I don't regret switching over at all - I love it down in the ER. You get to interact with so many people, save so many lives......What?" He asked when he looked at her smiling at him.

"Just looking at your face when you talk about it....It makes me smile." Grace answered with a smile. "You just light up like you were a little kid talking about Christmas."

"Well, I love what I do." He said as the food came.

A few minutes later, Grace broke the silence, speaking innocently, "So, are you seeing anyone?"

Carter nearly choked on his pasta. "No - no. I'm not. What about you?"

"Nobody. I'm not seeing anyone either." She blushed, and went back to eating her food.

As they ate, Carter remembered how he had always liked Grace back in high school. He and Grace had ben best friends, and back then he just couldn't find a way to tell her that he was in love with her. He had pushed his feelings aside, afraid of ruining their friendship. He had forgotten about that - Until today, It was kind of hard to forget with her here tonight. The night ended far too quickly, and Grace was soon driving him home. Before he knew it, she had parked in front of his apartment building and was handing him her business card.

"This has my address and number on it. You better keep in touch, or else." She 'threatened'.

"I will - Oh here, do you want my number?" He said as he wrote it on a piece of paper.

"Naw. If need to talk to you, I'll just hail an ambulance and tell them to take me to County." She smiled. "I'm joking - I know that it's's illegal and all." She said as she took his number.

"I had a nice time Grace - I missed you." Carter said truthfully.

In response, she leaned over and kissed him. "Good night John." She smiled

"Good night Grace."

As he got out of the car, he could still feel the kiss on his lips. Looking at the car driving away, he saw the second chance that he had just gotten. He couldn't believe his luck, as he smiled. Things were looking up.

* * *

A couple days later, he found himself talking to Grace's answering machine:

"Hey Grace, It's John. Just trying to get a hold of you, so we could do something together. Well, you know the number: 555-3094, in case you lost it or something. It was great seeing you - Bye." He hung up the phone.

A day passed. Then two. Then three. He called again - and got her answering machine. He waited another day or two, and then called again. No response. Ten days after he first called, he decided to try again.

"Hello, Annie - is that you?" Grace had answered on the first ring.

"No, actually it's John."

"Oh." Her voice dropped. "Listen John, I - I can't...."

"Grace, please tell me what's wrong." He asked gently.

"Listen - leave me alone, Carter." She snapped. "Just leave me be." She said before hanging up the phone.

Carter stood there wordlessly, phone in hand, listening to the empty sound of the dial tone.

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