The Speed of Love

AUTHOR: Brandon
SPOILERS: This is an alternate take on the end of "Brothers and Sisters" (season 8) everything up until that episode is fair game.
ARCHIVE: Yeah, just drop me a line first.
DISCLAIMER: The ER characters are not mine...I'm just borrowing them for a little while.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've written fanfic before, but not ER fanfic. So, here it goes. This fic starts right at the scene at the end of "Brothers and Sisters", where Abby can't sleep...but in my version, she actually decides to call someone.
SUMMARY: Abby makes a phone call she should have made long ago.

"At the speed of love
A radiance that travels
At the speed of love
My heart goes out to you"

Abby sat on her couch, staring mindlessly at the TV. She looked over at the phone which she had held in her hand just moments ago, and wondered if she should call him. Several seconds of indecision passed before she picked it up and dialed the number she knew by heart, but called all too rarely.

John Carter was lying awake in bed, staring up at the ceiling. He was extremely tired, but had been tossing and turning in his bed for hours, unable to get comfortable no matter how hard he tried. Suddenly, the phone rang. He reached over and picked it up.


"Carter? Its Abby," she said somberly. "Did I wake you?"

Carter was instantly lucid, knowing that if Abby was calling this early in the morning, something must be wrong.

"No, I couldn't sleep," he replied. "What's wrong Abby? Are you okay?"

" Carter, I'm not. Can you come over, please?" Her whispering voice practically begged him to help her, and in an instant he was already out of bed, trying to find his clothes.

"Yes Abby. I'll be there as soon as I can...are you going to be alright until I get there?"

"Just hurry, John. Please." she said, and hung up. Carter hurried to find the rest of his clothes, and in a few minutes he was out the door.

Abby sat staring at the half-empty bottle of beer, wondering why her life was always so messed up. The drinking, the bi-polar mother, the failed relationships, the hectic work - none of it helped. But, through all of her problems, there was one constant. Carter. She wished that things had been easier between them. Their friendship was instantly sucessful, but neither of them could deny the sexual tension that was between them. She regretted the fact that she and Luka had been dating at the time. Luka. There was another one of her problems. Her relationship with him was never about love. It was about just having someone, although that was debatable in the later stages of their relationship. He was so distant, and uncaring, and it was then that she realized that she was in the relationship for all the wrong reasons.

Since Carter had told her of his true feelings that one day by the river, things had gotten much more complicated between them. His dating Susan sure hadn't helped either. It was typical, really, that it happened. When she was in a futile relationship, Carter was pining for her from the sidelines. And then, when she had broken up with Luka, Carter was in a bad relationship with Susan, and she was wanting him. It was like something was determined to keep them apart. But, it was getting progressively better. While they were both afraid to admit it, they both knew. It was evident every time they were near each other. Even at work in the ER, they shared glances that could say so much more than words.

Today, Carter had helped her realize that her drinking WAS still a problem. While she didn't admit it to him then, she knew it now. But she still needed his help. At that moment, there was a knock at the door.

"Abby?" Carter's voice called through the door. "It's John."

Abby padded slowly over towards the door, and unlocked it. She opened it slowly, and there he stood, with a concerned look on his face that she knew she was the cause of.

"Come in," she said. She really didn't know what else to say, so she walked back to the television and turned it off. The she turned towards him, and leaned against the side of the couch, watching him close the door behind him. He turned around, and looked towards her. Several moments of uncomfortable silence passed between them, until Carter walked over, picked up the beer bottle, and without saying a word, poured the liquid down the sink, and threw the bottle away. He came back into the living room, and sat down beside Abby, who had taken a seat on the couch.

"You were right, Carter." she said, on the verge of tears.

"About what?" he replied, but knowing full well what she meant, and placing a hand on her arm.

"My drinking. It is a problem…I know it is…you were right, and I-" her explanation degenerated in a mass of sobs and apologies, so Carter took her in his arms, and hugged her. He stroked her hair, telling her everything would be fine. Abby immediately felt safe with his arms encircled around her, and after a while her crying subsided. She raised her head, and looked into his deep brown eyes.

"John," she said. "Thank you for coming."

"It's no problem."

"No, I mean it. I don't think I can get through the night alone."

He looked at her for a moment. Even in her current state, she really was beautiful.

"Do you work tomorrow?" he asked.

She laughed half-heartedly. "Yes, unfortunately."

"Well, I'll call Weaver, and tell her you're sick."

"No, you don't have to do that, I mean, I can get through a shift…"

He cut her off. "No Abby. You need rest."

"That may be true…but I also need a distraction from alcohol."

John nodded, then stood up, and grabbed her hand. "Then come on, " he said. "Let's go."

"Go where?" Abby asked, letting him pull her up off the couch.

"Let's get something to eat."

A while later they were at Doc Magoo's, laughing and talking about their respective Med School mishaps. They had been there for hours, and it was almost seven in the morning.

During a break in the conversation, they locked eyes with each other for a moment. A short, brief second, but it was enough. They both knew.

"John, "Abby said. "I need to tell you-"

"No," Carter said. Abby looked at him, confused. "Not now. We shouldn't do this now."

Abby didn't know what to say, but was about to make an attempt when she was interrupted by Susan, who had just walked in.

"Carter!" she said. "I was hoping you'd be here. Weaver wanted to know if you could start early today."

"You're working?" asked Abby, still confused, but appreciative that Carter would give up a night's sleep for her.

Carter nodded to Abby, and then to Susan. "Sure," he said. Susan nodded, and ran back across the street to meet an incoming ambulance.

Carter turned back towards Abby. "Abby…meet me down by the river, at around noon, okay? We can talk then."

Abby nodded. They both stood, and as Carter turned to go, Abby grabbed his hand, and gave it a squeeze. He smiled, squeezed back, and left.

*             *             *

"At the speed of love
Nothing changes faster
Than the speed of love
My heart goes out to you"

All through his shift, Cater thought of her. He went about his daily tasks, doing traumas, treating patients, writing charts, but all the while his thoughts were of her. He mentally counted down the hours until he got to see her. He had no idea what he would say, but he knew that they couldn't ignore their feelings forever.

Abby couldn't concentrate while she was at home. Her every thought was consumed by him. She went to an AA meeting at around ten-thirty, but even then she thought only of him.

Walking aimlessly after the meeting, she found herself at the bench by the river. Their bench. She sat, and wondered what she would say to him.

Several minutes later, Carter walked up behind her, and placed to hands on her shoulders, beginning to massage them. She looked up at him and smiled. Carter then moved around the bench and sat beside her, not knowing what to say. He was about to begin speaking when she started first.

"I said yesterday that I didn't want you to worry about me. Because it - us - was too complicated. And it is. But I also know that you care about me, like no one else ever has." She reached over and placed her hand on his. "You've cared about me despite everything. Despite me dating Luka, despite me drinking again - you've always been there." She smiled, and while she was slightly embarrased at revealing her feelings, she knew it was the right thing to do. He smiled back.

"Abby," he said, moving closer to her. "I do care about you. But it's more than that. You saved me. You saved me from myself, and probably from death. Through everything, I remembered that we've always had a special relationship." He stopped, and his eyes looked sincerely into hers. "It didn't take me long to realize that I couldn't just be friends with you. I even told you how I felt, admittedly, not in the best way, but - I did feel that way. And I still do."

He could tell just by looking in her eyes that she knew what he was going to do. He leaned in towards her, and kissed her. Her nerves tingled at his touch, and she leaned into him, and placed a hand on his shoulder.

They parted, and looked back into each other's eyes.

"I love you," he said.

"I know. I love you too."

The kissed again, and when they parted, they were both smiling.

"Well, it sure took us long enough!" she said, laughing. He laughed too, and they stood, and linked hands. In comfortable silence, they walked back towards the hospital.

*             *             *

"Love is born with solar flares
From two magnetic poles
It moves toward a higher plane
Where two halves make two wholes"

"When did you know?" she asked. They were at her apartment, enjoying a quiet dinner alone.

"Know what?" he asked.

"When did you know that you were in love with me?"

He thought for a moment. "Well, right from the beginning, when I asked you to be my sponsor, I knew we would have a great friendship. But, over time, I began to realize that there was more than that between us. But, I knew for sure that I was in love with you that night we went to my grandparent's charity function. You looked so great, even in the bridemaid's dress, I just couldn't take my eyes off you. After that, it only grew."

They both smiled, and then he asked her when she knew.

"Well…I think I knew there was something more going on at the charity dinner too, but, I really knew for sure when you helped me with my mother the first time. You were so, caring. You helped me when no one else would. After that, it was only a matter of time," she smiled again, and then he stood up.

Carter went around behind her, and began to massage her shoulders. She moaned in delight and leaned up to kiss him.

"I love you," she said.

"I love you too," he replied. Then, he smiled. "How about we skip the rest of dinner, and move right to dessert?"

She smiled back at him, and they kissed again, but this time it didn't stop there.

"We don't have to talk
We don't even have to touch
I can feel your presence
In the silence that we share

Got to keep on moving
At the speed of love"


Thanks for reading! Just so you know, the song used is The Speed of Love by Rush. Please, authors live for feedback, so email me at with your comments. Thanks again!

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