SPOILERS: season eight
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This fanfic is based on the song "Black Balloon" by the Goo Goo Dolls. While I was listening to it I got the idea for this. It plays throughout the fanfic. It takes place during the eighth season. Oh yes, and Dave Malucci came back. It's my first so please e-mail me and tell me what you think.
SUMMARY: Abby receives devastating news that will forever change her life...
The melody drifted into the bedroom, causing Abby to open her eyes. Not that she had been sleeping, but she was enjoying the quietness that she would never get working in the ER. The new neighbors must have trouble sleeping again, Abby thought. At least it's better than screaming. She had finally moved back in after Brian left, and was relieved that someone had taken his apartment. That way, he could never come back into her life.
As Abby was beginning to relive awful memories, the music disappeared. All that was left now was silence. She sighed and made her way into the living room. As she turned on her stereo and played the same song, the heavens opened up and it began to pour. Abby watched it and waited. Waited for a sense of peace that would never come.
"We've got four majors coming in and there's over ten minors waiting for medical attention! Let's move it people!" Dr. Weaver yelled over the intercom. There was no need for it; her voice alone was enough to get people scurrying about frantically around the nurses' station.
"Yes SIR! Right away SIR!" Dr. Malucci saluted. Somehow he managed to keep a straight face while everyone else suppressed giggles.
Weaver whipped around and fiercely glared at him. She pointed her finger while speaking through clenched teeth. "You're walking a fine line as it is Malucci! Don't screw up your second chance here!" Without another word she walked away.
Just then, Abby walked through the emergency entrance wearily. "Hey everyone," she sighed while sipping her espresso. She was so tired that she had relented to buy an espresso rather than her usual cup of coffee at Doc Magoos.
"Hey Abby, how you doin'?" Malucci greeted warmly as she made her way over to the desk. As he asked that, Carter and Susan walked out of the lounge together, talking and laughing. A hint of jealously had begun to show evidently on her expression, but quickly managed to conceal it. She instead forced a smile in Malucci's direction.
"Oh, I'm good. And you?" Abby replied politely. Already the day was turning into another bad one, and she was determined not to let that happen. After all, tonight was the annual Cooks County Hospital charity ball. It was a formal event where all the proceeds went to the children's ward. Going to it was the last thing she had wanted, but since it was for charity she agreed to make an appearance. She was trying to determine what to wear while Malucci answered her question.
"Abby?" Malucci snapped her out of her momentary trance. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry. Drifted off." She murmured while glancing at the board. "We have four majors coming in?"
Malucci also looked at the board and nodded. "Yep, and only eight am. Oh yeah, who can forget Weaver's on a warpath as always…"
Abby chucked in amusement. "What else is new?" She thought aloud. As she headed into the lounge, she wished she hadn't come to work today. It was turning out to be one of those days. A day where she actually wanted to disappear.
7:50 PM. Yes! Abby thought while staring at the clock hanging on the wall. Only ten more minutes left! Abby had been stuck working a twelve-hour shift with Gallant, Malucci, and Weaver while everyone else only had six-hour shifts. The ball was going to start in only forty minutes, which barely gave her time to go home and get ready. Already the three of them had gotten on her nerves with Gallant and his over-confidence, Malucci's sexist jokes which weren't funny in the least, and Weaver being, well, Weaver. On top of all that, there wasn't much to do. Everything had calmed down a few hours ago once it started to rain, leaving it a slow night. So here Abby was, reviewing past charts and filing countless piles of paperwork.
7:52 PM. "Abby, may I speak to you for a few minutes? It's important." Weaver interrupted Abby's work. Weaver overheard her groan a little.
"Sure. What's up?" Abby replied while making her way over.
"Well, I can't help but notice you've been lacking in your work lately; distracted one could say. Is anything going on that you wanted to talk about? Perhaps I can help even. I understand about bipolar disorder and what you must be going through with your mother…"
Images of her childhood, Maggie, Richard, Luka, and Carter all flashed before her. These were not memories that she wanted to talk about. Abby closed her eyes for a moment so as not to let on that she was upset. "I'm fine. Really. There is nothing to worry about. I'm sorry I've been lacking; I'll do better. Is that all?"
A few moments passed. "Yes, that's all." Weaver's expression revealed that she didn't believe her, but left the subject alone nonetheless. As she walked off, Abby glanced at her watch.
7:57 PM. Three more minutes… Abby noted. She began to continue reviewing and filing when the emergency radio called in.
"County General." She answered. A voice answered, but it was not understandable through all the static. "County General! Who is this?" she tried again, a little louder.
"Is anyone there?" Someone asked frantically. Then static consumed the voice and the radio went dead.
"What's going on?" Malucci rushed over to where Abby held the receiver in her hand.
"I have no idea. I think someone was calling for help," she mumbled while trying to fix the radio.
"Must be the storm. It's really kicking out there…" Malucci turned on the back-up one and proceeded to flip through the channels.
"Yeah, kind of makes me wonder why I ever moved to Chicago of all places," she laughed, attempting to lighten up the situation.
"Yeah, 'of all places'." He quoted her with a grin. Just then, a voice was heard.
"Is anyone there? Hello?" it repeated.
At this moment, Gallant arrived at the nurses' station. "Here, let me try," he told Malucci, who stepped aside and handed the receiver to him.
"This is Cooks County General, over. 2 o'hundred hours, over. Do you read me, over. " Gallant called out into the receiver. Abby couldn't help but smile at his military talk.
After some more static the person on the other end replied. "Yes, we read you. This is ambulance 108. We've got a young girl- six years of age- with acute lymphocytic leukemia. She's been severely beaten and stabbed once in the lower vertebrae. We've managed to stabilize her but we don't know for how much longer. We'll be arriving there in 3…2… 1…" There was a click and the line was silent.
Silence filled the room for a short-lived moment. Realizing she wouldn't be off anytime soon, Abby took one last look at the clock and thought, the calm before the storm…
The decorations hanging high above in the foyer of the banquet hall held such splendor that it made Susan, Luka, Elizabeth, Mark, Deb, and the rest of the staff at the hospital stop and marvel. None of it was impressing to Carter, though. He had grown up around all this, being a Carter family member. But he neglected to tell everyone that his family owned the hall.
As they continued to make their way inside, the sounds of laughter and music filled the air. The song playing caught his attention and he listened to the lyrics as if they spoke to him.
Baby's black balloon makes her fly
I almost fell into that hole in your life
And you're not thinking about tomorrow
'Cause you were the same as me
But on your knees
Abby instantly appeared in his mind. Everyone has a balloon that makes them fly, or rather everyone has something that they live for. But Abby's balloon was black; her life was pain-filled and dark. A darkness that caused her to shut people out. And he was shut out so many times that he was falling into that hole she created. They were the same; they both used alcohol as fallout. But she was going deeper and deeper into the darkness.
A thousand other boys could never reach you
How could I have been the one
I saw the world spin beneath you
And scatter like ice from the spoon
That was your womb
How could he have been the one? He still didn't understand. She was with Luka at the time, and had a life with Richard before that. But out of all people, he reached her in a way no one else had. She had had the same effect on him. So it was difficult to see the world spin beneath her and cause her to create that hole of darkness that was her life.
The young girl lay there motionless while death was by her bedside. The doctors and nurses had done everything they could, but there was no chance for survival. The stab wound wasn't even the problem; it wasn't severe. It was her cancer that would claim her life. Although she was in remission years back, it returned and was no longer responding to chemotherapy treatments. Her mother, her only living relative and the one who beat and stabbed her, wasn't a bone marrow match. The leukemia had reached its final stage, thus leaving liver and kidney failure. The young girl named Emma would be gone, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
For some unexplainable reason, Abby felt a connection to Emma. Standing by her there in the intensive care pediatrics ward, checking her vitals, she came to the realization that this girl reminded her a lot of herself. One Thanksgiving, Maggie had discovered Abby went to see her father and chased her around the house with a knife. Although she was never hurt, it scarred her. She was also beaten like the girl by Brian. And the last thing, the thing that really got to her, was that Emma would have been around the same age more or less of her aborted baby if she had kept it.
While unwanted memories once again invaded Abby's mind, the girl awoke from her deep slumber.
"Are you an angel?" Emma asked Abby, who could see a mixture of innocence and hope in her blue eyes.
"No, I'm not." Abby whispered honestly. "I'm a nurse. You've been brought into a hospital. We're going to take good care of you so you just go back to sleep, okay?"
"They're the same thing," Emma replied, yawning.
"Nurses and angels." She said before falling back to sleep and dreaming of a sky that was the same perfect hue of her eyes.
As Abby watched the girl dream and slip away from the world at the same time, she wondered why life was the way it was. So Abby did something she had not done in what seemed like forever: she prayed.
Comin' down the world turned over
And angels fall without you there
And I go on as you get colder
Or are you Someone's Prayer?