6 years, 8 days, 12 hours


AUTHOR: Katie
EMAIL: writegrl@aol.com or corday14@yahoo.com
CATEGORY: CH/Cast
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: Takes place after "Such Sweet Sorrow"
DISCLAIMER: ER was created by Micheal Crichton and is in the ownership of Warner Bros. Those brilliant ER writers made up every character in this fic. I’m just borrowing their ideas to create an original story of my own, which is just for my amusement and the amusement of my readers. DO NOT COPY ME !!
SUMMARY: Carol's life is finally together, she is at peace with herself and she has a family. As she is leaving County with Doug to go back to Seattle, something happens that catapults her life into pieces again.



(May, 2000. At Doc Magoo’s, music is playing softly in the background, and the fans on the ceiling spin to the rhythm of the lively, but tired conversation amongst the throng of people gathered in the booths. PAN from the ceiling, into one of the booths. Carol Hathaway is sitting beside Doug Ross, who has his hands clasped loosely around a foaming beer, which he sips from time to time. He has a broad smile across his face, and his eyes are admiring his daughter, Tess, whose sleeping on his shoulder. Carol is holding Kate, who is gurgling and playing with her earring. The laughter rises and falls…)

Mark: When is it again? The wedding?

Doug: July 30.

Lydia: (smirks) Wasting no time, eh?

Mark: You gonna paint the house?

Doug: Naw, no need.

Carol: (nudges Doug) Doug, it could use a coat or two.

Chuny: Uh-oh, some marital issues are beginning to rise here, eh?

Elizabeth: (laughs, leaning on Mark’s shoulder) At any rate, when should we arrive?

Mark: Yeah, with the whole ER in tow.

Doug: (grins) Ceremony’s at 7.

Mark: Wow, you are finally prepared.

Doug: (nods) It’s finally going to happen. (Looks at Carol,  there’s a pause, looks back at everyone) So this is it…

Carol: (speaks for him, her eyebrow creases slightly, she twitches, then sighs) I’m going to miss you all so much.

Haleh: Awww, Carol, (wipes her eye) Girl, it’s not gonna be the same

Carol: I know, Haleh, (looks down, then up again, gazes at everyone, shaking her head) I love this place. I mean, so much…so much has happened here… (smiles weakly)

Doug: Life’s a bitch, mine just had puppies.

(Laughter)

Carol: No, (nudges Doug)  I mean… (sighs) It’s been long. A long road…

Elizabeth: Where are you going? Where have you been? (grins, rests her hand on Mark’s)

Carol: I found myself here…

Lydia: Good to hear it. Wonder when I will…(smirks self-consciously)

Doug: (checks his watch) Well, we’d better go. (stands up, puts Tess in carrier)

Carol: (stands stiffly, sits Kate next to Tess, pauses, stands there, a tear escapes her eye) Bye everyone.

Mark: (embraces her) Promise me you’ll never work again. (smiles)

Chuny: (pecks Doug on the cheek) Good luck, Dr. Ross. (hugs him)

Doug: Thanks Chuny.

Haleh: (her head on Carol’s shoulder) You come back, Carol. Soon. Real soon.

Doug: (to Mark, pats him on the shoulder, hugs him meaningfully) Take care. And…tell me how Carter’s doing, all right?

Mark: (nods solemnly, looks into Doug’s eyes) You better e-mail me, remember my birthday.

Doug: I know everyone’s birthday. (smiles. He’s thinking about Carol’s words as he speaks) Thanks everybody. For changing my life.

Carol: (holds Doug’s hand) Bye. Let’s go before I fall apart. (waves briefly, they walk out of Magoo’s and out onto the street.)

(They stop at a crosswalk and as they’re waiting, Carol clears her throat and kisses Doug on the lips, slowly.)

Carol: Doug, I love you.

Doug: I love you too.

Carol: Really, you know how much you’re done for me.

Doug: Not that much.

Carol: We’re going to spend forever together.

Doug: Absolutely. Finally. You realize how long it took for me to get to say that? (chuckles deeply)

(Carol joins his laugh, and they cross the street, hand in hand, each pushing the twins’ stroller together. They reach the other side of the street when Carol drops the diaper bag a few feet from the sidewalk. They get the twins to safety and Carol shuffles back out to the asphalt hastily)

Carol: Oops…

(Suddenly, an inattentive, incoherent, irresponsible driver rounds the corner. Brakes screech, the car slams Carol to the ground…)

 

(Carol sighs, the hard ground slicing her skin. She felt some blood trickling down her forehead, and she suddenly felt very exhausted. She could see the blurry image of Doug racing towards her and cursing at the driver, shaking his fist angrily, then his hand leaning forward to touch her…

 

Her world went black. She rested. She thought to herself in that void, that silence, that she was very near the hospital, the twins were safe, she hoped, and that her trusted doctors and friends would take care of her well. Her thoughts quieted as she entered into sleep, dreaming nothing…

 

Soon she could hear the sounds of a busy hospital, the sweet chirps of delicate birds hopping on thin branches just outside her window. She heard voices. A nurse nearby. She didn’t know who exactly. She guessed it was probably Conni. It sounded like her. She smiled, and gently opened her eyes, feeling placid.

 

It was morning, and Carol was surprised at first that she had been out for so long. But she accepted it, hearing the appeasing rhythm of her EKG just next to her. Conni’s back was turned to her, but when Carol sighed, she spun around. Her face went pale, her mouth gaped open, and she gasped with inexplicable relief.)

 

Conni: Carol…(runs to bed, holds her hand)

Carol: Conni…(shuts eyes for a moment, opens them) Close call?

Conni: I’d say. Carol, are you all right?

Carol: (sighs and grins) I’m fine. Yeah. A little shaken. But I’ll live. How –

Conni: I’m getting Mark…(she darts out of the room, her ER slippers scuffing the ground. Carol begins to wonder why she was so shocked. Carol was sure she was alright. She felt her stomach. Didn’t seem like anyone had done surgery for internal bleeding. She put her hand to her head. That’s funny, she thought. No one put a bandage on my head? I could have sworn I cut it…)

(Mark soon appeared in the doorway, his eyes large, tired, worried. He approached Carol warmly, sitting on a stool beside her.)

 

Mark: Carol, we all were so concerned…(he sighs, checking her vitals) You were…pretty lucky. We didn’t think you’d…

Carol: God, Mark, what happened to me? Was it that bad?

Mark: (jaw drops, he stutters) Carol, you don’t remember?

Carol: I do I do. Don’t look so worried. You look like you haven’t gotten any sleep. This really wasn’t worth that.

Mark: Carol, there are a few things we need to talk about. And if you ever need someone to talk to there are –

Carol: Mark! (irritated) What are you going on about? I’m fine. Look at me. Look, I’m smiling, (points to her smile) Stop worrying.

Mark: (creases eyebrows, voice cracks) It was a miracle…

Carol: (hisses) Mark, get some sleep. Anyway, have you seen Doug?

Mark: (leans back a little in surprise) Yes, why?

Carol: (slowly, getting a little anxious) Beeecause…I’d like to make sure he’s all right.

Mark: He’s fine. (stands, eyes boring into Carol.) Why…I mean…why wouldn’t he be fine?

Carol: (shakes head, her eyes watching Mark, his nervous mannerisms, his frightened look) are – are the girls all right?

Mark: The girls? What? Oh…(scratches bald spot, assumes she means the nurses) It’s another work day…they’re fine.

Carol: (squints) What?

(Carol is interrupted by another presence in the room. Susan paces through the door, and walks calmly to Carol’s side, although her stare at her is one of awe and disbelief.)

Susan: Carol…(glances at Mark, holds her hand) How’s her barbituate?

Carol: (jaw dropped, staring at Susan) Susan, what are you doing here? (smiles, laughs) When did you arrive? And you’re…you’re in a lab coat. You already get your job back?

Susan: (touches Carol head, strokes it gently) Carol, it’s all right. We were all a little shaken up. (looks at Mark) Barbituate level?

Mark: (looks at chart) It – It’s going down. How??

Susan: Is she alert? I mean…is she…damaged…

Mark: (takes flashlight, shines it in her eyes) No, doesn’t seem like it.

Carol: (her eyes are darting about, and she’s starting to realize they may just be joking with her) Barbituate level? Guys…stop it. I know what you’re doing. Great joke. Mark, you got Susan to come all this way just for a prank? Very unlike you…(giggles)

(Mark and Susan look at each other, silently understanding, sharing the same concern. They look back at her, and Susan tightens her grip on her hand)

 

Susan: Carol, what day of the week is it?

Carol: It’s a Thursday. I think. I don’t know. I’m kind of out of it right now. (smiles meekly) So Susan, we have a lot to catch up on. Where did –

Susan: (interrupts, with some fear in her voice) Carol, what’s the date? Month…day…year…

Carol: Well, if it’s a Thursday then it’s May 19, 2000. Guys, joke’s over.

Susan: (sends a startled look to Mark)

Carol: (thinks she just playing along) What? Ok, guys, (smiles) What day is it?

Mark: (sighs, heads for the door) March 21,1994. Susan, could I see you?

Carol: (she freezes, suddenly becoming helplessly aware of the situation. Mark – Susan – they looked different. At least Mark. He had at least 5 inches more hair than he did last time she saw  him, which was last night, she thought…She began to feel frightened, bewildered, and she didn’t understand why. She spoke anxiously, sharply) Mark! Come back. Susan…I have two baby girls, Kate and Tess. (It’s just a joke Carol, they’re just razzing you. She continued though, frantically) I have friends. Mark, you have Elizabeth, Susan, you….you’re…I don’t know about you. Doug – Mark where’s Doug? (her voice lost its strength) Please find Doug. Doug – he’s – we were leaving for Seattle, remember, with our babies. I love him…Mark, you KNOW that. Mark? Mark you were attacked 3 years ago, Susan you LEFT 3 years ago… (she was babbling on and on, worrying Mark and Susan more and more. She couldn’t stop) I was held up at a convenience store…tell me you remember. Carter – Mark – Carter and Lucy got stabbed and Lucy died and….Carter got addicted to painkillers and he’s in detox… (she felt like she was going crazy) Mark…so much…

Mark: (staring at her, bemused, deeply frightened, frightened of the unknown, the unimaginable) Carol, you’ll be all right. Susan, come with me.

(They departed, and Carol sat there, on the brink of sobbing. This was unreal. She wanted to go back – back to where she had been. She wanted to be with Doug, to have her life together, her life the way she finally wanted it. She wanted that closure. Where was she? This was a cruel joke…or she was just taking it too harshly.

 

Soon a young woman in an uptight business suit came in with a smile. She was a psych consult. Carol knew them well. Carol sighed as she talked down to her, as if she were crazy. But she wasn’t. Oh…where was Doug…where was her life…She wanted to go back so badly. She ached for it again. Something wasn’t right.

 

She was just overreacting. She reached for her belongings but the psych woman clutched her arm)

 

Psych: (smiles nervously) Um, Carol, you can’t leave yet. We still have things to talk about.

Carol: (puts her index finger up in the air, looks her in the eye) Don’t worry. One moment. I need to see something. (fumbles through her purse, finds her wallet. She sees the pictures of her mom, pictures of her friends that she thought she had stowed away. The wallet – hadn’t she replaced that? Replaced it with a newer one? One with leather…and a brass clasp for the coin case?

 

She finally comes upon her driver’s license, nods quietly, and puts it away again. She folds her hands in her lap and stares at the psych woman, letting the droning of her voice take her away.

 

Her license would expire two years later, in 1996. She thought back to when she got it renewed…she remembered that day…she REMEMBERED IT! It had ALREADY HAPPENED! She began to boil up inside, watching this woman. Watching…watching reality sink in. her mind racing, thinking of everything…wondering what was her past, what was her future…wondering where the past 6 years, 8 days, 12 hours had gone…)

THE END




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