Slowly Slipping Away

AUTHOR: Sylvia
RATING: G <I think it's my first one!!>
ARCHIVE: Please please please email me!
DISCLAIMER: You people know the drill... These are not my characters, they are NBC, Warner Bros... yadda yadda yadda...I just borrow and return...
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Okay so yesterday ER was on. Nothing remotely related to Carter and Abby. I'm on Carby Deficiency, so of course I pop in my tape of Lockdown. It's one of the best Carby episodes and I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Then I think of what's happening to their relationship now. It makes me want to cry. So I started writing this fic, sorta trying to lead it in a different direction. But my inside Carby tells me not to do it, so I don't. So this story is dedicated to Lydia and Keri b/c they are the 2 bestest people I know, and my other friend Liz b/c she's just so awesome. And kudos to Heather b/c her site is like so magnificent!! It's the best site on the web for ER and I am honored to be a part of it!!!
SUMMARY: The one person he would die for is dying slowly for him.

He was slipping away from her. Nothing was like it used to be. He used to always be there when she needed him. But now he was gone, working. Kerry had asked her if she and him were fighting. They weren't. He had switched all their shifts, so he was only working one shift with her a week. By the time she got home, he was gone. In the morning, she had to catch the El, so she had to leave before he got home. He was working on all her days off. She was stuck working on the days that he had off. What had happened? She didn't understand anything anymore. She made her way through the empty apartment, her heeled shoes echoing through the empty rooms. She hated coming back to an empty apartment. He had cleaned up a bit, and taken a shower. Also attempted to sleep. But she knew he was unsuccessful due to the blankets thrown into a ball on the floor. She pulled off her black shoes. They were ones she had bought a few years ago and had forgotten about. She found them one day cleaning, and decided to make some use out of them. For the most part, they were very comfortable. Next she stepped over to her walk-in closet. She had Erik put in some shelves the last time he had been in town. She had room for every piece of clothing, though she didn't own that many. She put her shoes on the rack, and pulled off her black sweater. It was her favorite. It was so worn, but she cradled it. It smelled of her herbal shampoo and a faint smell of his cologne. The only other scent she had of him was the bedspread. She was extremely tired, and it showed in her complexion. She saw the pale skin with dark black circles. She had worked 36 hours straight. She hated being nurse manager. She looked at the rest of her body. How could he ever love this? Her breasts were barely visible. When she had been young, she always pictured herself like some gorgeous model, breasts flaunted, every guy adoring her. Her image today was completely different. She stopped looking at herself. She was a disappointment to herself, and more so to the one person she loved more than life itself: him. She threw on her tank top and pajama bottoms and crawled underneath the covers. She grabbed his pillow and hugged it towards her body, resting her hand on the soft material. It smelled like his shampoo and horrid soap. She missed him so much.

He walked the dark streets of Chicago towards her apartment. He couldn't go to Gamma's. She would guess something was wrong with him, and not let him go until he told her. She knew him too well. He reached the black gate and cement steps. The building was fairly new, with picture windows. The other 3 families around them had white curtains and showed a panoramic view of the city. Her apartment's windows were covered. He wondered if she was home. What she was doing. He was supposed to be at work. But he wasn't. Kerry made him go home after he misdiagnosed a patient. It was a simple appendicitis. And he didn't get it right. He was too worried about her. She controlled his days and his nights. He never stopped thinking about her. He loved her. But love was so confusing sometimes. He searched for his keys and finally pulled them out of the bottom of his bag. He had fallen so behind on his charts Kerry was ready to choke him to death. He took home a few, and would finish the rest on his next day off: tomorrow. He dropped his heavy load on the floor, dropped his keys onto the dish by the door, and threw his coat on the kitchen chair. This was so routine to him now, he didn't even think about his actions. He walked into the bathroom and gazed into the mirror. He really was a mess. He hadn't shaved since about three days ago. He hadn't even gone home in about three days. He had to cover Susan. Then his shift started. This was what Chief Resident was all about. He wanted the Attending position. He couldn't afford to let that slip through his fingers. He let the cold water run and cupped his hands. He splashed his face with the water, it automatically woke him up. But it was only a quick fix. His eyes screamed for sleep. He gave up. He made his way to the bedroom, hoping she was asleep. He opened the door to find her curled up in a fetal position, his pillow being cradled by her. For some strange reason, he hurt. He didn't know why, but he did. He couldn't explain it. He tip-toed around slowly, making sure not to wake her. He walked to the drawer and pulled out a pair of sweatpants and a loose T-shirt. He quickly undressed and made his way to his side of the bed.

She felt a tug on whatever she had been holding. She also felt a weight on the right side of her bed. She was too tired to think or even act. She just let go and tried to go back to sleep. But her mind wouldn't let her. She opened her eyes to watch him fixing his pillow. He then turned his back to her, and curled up with his pillow. He looked all of 12 years. She could feel the tension between them, even as they hadn't seen or talked to each other for almost 3 weeks. Her heart screamed for joy and cried at the same time. Maybe it wasn't all over. Maybe there was a way to fix everything. She watched him fiddle with his pillow a few more times before deciding that it was too uncomfortable and turned on his back. He finally settled down, but she could still see his eyes wide open. Both knew why the other wasn't sleeping. And neither one would say why.

He couldn't find a comfortable position. He had always slept on his left side, facing her side of the bed. Now it just seemed to uncomfortable. Too much to push at one point. His better senses kept telling him to talk to her, for he knew she wasn't asleep. Neither would get much sleep tonight. And God, she had a early shift in the morning, and he had about a thousand charts to finish. This wasn't doing him any good. He felt her side of the bed weigh down and he knew she turned over without even looking over at her. He couldn't go on like this anymore. It would drive him crazy. But what could he do? He couldn't go and snuggle up to her like old times. This was different. It wasn't right after a long grueling shift that the only thing the two of them would do is go to bed and laugh about each other's days. No. This was major. This was the thing that couples of many years divorced over. It was the type of thing that could break up even the best marriage. It was silence. He couldn't talk. She wouldn't, or couldn't. He needed to help. Or at least try to. He needed to do something. He lost himself in his thoughts for a while, when he heard muffled sounds from his left. He had never seen her cry. He could always tell if she had been, but she had never done it in front of him before. He had made her cry. The one person he would die for is dying slowly for him.

She couldn't control it anymore. It drove her crazy. Her passion was so real, so strong, so controlling, she got lost in it. The tears flowed, not steadily, but slowly. She could feel every tear dripping down her soar cheek and landing on her pillow, soaking it after a while. She couldn't feel anything. She was completely hollowed out. Rendered emotionless. She opened her eyes, and traced the outline of the shadows, tears still periodically streaming, trying anything to get her mind off the man laying about 12 inches away from her. She felt the bed move slightly, more weight on the spring on her side. She felt his body touching hers, only centimeters away. Not acting. Just lying there. Like he was scared. She stiffened a bit. Trying not to let her emotions weaken her. She was strong. She could go on without him. She could. It didn't reassure her one bit. She felt their body heat, warming up her freezing arms and legs. They stayed like that for what seemed like years. Finally she felt a hand slide between her stomach and arm, and grab her hand. He brought it back to his mouth and kissed it. He let go for a second. She felt like this was finally good-bye.

He couldn't believe what he had just done. It was impulsive. He had done it so many times before, but now it seemed crazy. Impossible. He needed to think. He got off the bed, grabbed his bathrobe which was lying only a few feet away and headed into the living room. He heard one more muffled cry before he shut the present world off. He loved her. He loved her. Why was loving her so complicated? So painful? So damn hard? Because it was true, genuine, real. This was the one person he couldn't admit his true feeling to because he was scared. Scared she would reject him. But she wouldn't. He knew that. But it still scared him. He needed to take a chance. He needed to live life. He needed to know that she loved him. He pulled himself together. He walked back into the room. She laid there motionless, breaths hard and deep. He knelt down next to her face. He could see her bright red eyes and cheeks. He saw a stray tear escape from her eye, and his hand automatically went to attack it. After he wiped it away, his hand still rested on her chin, and pulled it up. Her head went back without a fight. He looked deep into her brown eyes, so pained and torn. Without a word, he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. Her body was so light, and molded perfectly into his body. They told each other everything without saying a word. They expressed all their hopes and dreams in the dark silence. They promised to never leave with one single tear, shed by the two together, not a tear of sadness, but a tear of pure love.

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