Sticks and Stones
AUTHOR: Julie Stacey
CATEGORY: JC/PB Angst
SPOILERS: up to 'The Dance we do'
SUMMARY: Benton and Carter’s tenuous relationship takes a heavy blow.
Benton marched through the ER ripping off the surgical gloves and
them into a nearby waste disposal unit. He sidestepped a young man
himself not to fling him to the side and out of his path as he
towards the exit. He heard Mark calling him... vaguely... but it didn’t
register for him to stop. He barged through the exit doors wishing for
they weren’t automatic so he could hit
something, feel something concrete. He stepped outside abruptly, the
freezing and he was wearing only his scrubs but his blood was pulsing
through his body so fast he could barely feel the cold. Turning and
for something Benton spotted a nearby trash can, flinging out his leg
gave it an almighty kick, the sound resonated out over the sirens and
of Chicago. He stood there stunned… now what… he forced himself to gain
control of his breathing and felt himself lower down onto his haunches,
left himself drop to the curb sitting down on the cold concrete. He ran
hands over his head and bowed it between his knees.
He’d seen cases like that before, all too many instances of gang
half the kids were dead before they even reached the ER the other half
treated and streeted as best he could. You got used to it, everyone
never usually questioned what the others felt when something like that
brought in. Benoton had realized a long time ago if he allowed himself
feel anger, bitterness, hate for every act of violence he saw he’d not
retain his sanity for long. So he’d blocked it out, hell he’d become
of that feeling of fucking indifference. Today though… today had
with it a situation that called all those emotions up in abundance and
just one image, one among all the countless would stay etched in his
forever. The broken bleeding body of a young teen; the hollow stare of
someone whose brain had gone from an amazing and complex organ to
gray matter the moment the bullet had ricocheted off his temple. His
Benton squeezed his eyes shut against the constricting pain in his
could think only one thing, ‘selfish, selfish son of a bitch’.
Carter drew in a long puff on his cigarette and shivered pulling his
coat tighter around him. He exhaled shakily and closed his eyes… how in
hell had he managed to get through the shifts previously without the
cigarettes he’d no idea. They’d become a haven; a moment amidst the
when he could actually feel truly relaxed. Carter rested his head
the wall, he knew he was addicted but hell he’d take anything over
narcotics into his system to make himself feel better. Most of his
colleagues had been climbing the walls today it had been so fucking
one of those weird non descript days when everyone was treading on
and didn’t quite know why. No major cases, no pace they weren’t used
something had been in the air. At one point Kerry had screamed at him
apparent reason, looked confused and a little sheepish almost
immediately after and quickly apologized. Carter had had to force
not to suggest that maybe if more of the staff took up smoking the ER
be a calmer place, for everyone. He’d refrained though, thankfully.
course right on queue as if this was the moment everyone had
Benton’s nephew had been brought into the ER with a bullet wound to the
head. It hadn’t looked good, in fact Carter knew it had been a lost
the moment he’d seen the young boy on the stretcher. Benton had acted
strangely calm and kept a cold expression on his face as he’d wheeled
young patient into trauma. Mark had accompanied him and told Carter to
outside, there was no need to overcrowd the room they would do
they could. Carter hadn’t had much time to object, he had wanted to
he couldn’t shake the look on Benton’s face out of his mind but he’d
Mark quietly. It wouldn’t be long before they called it anyway, unable
bring himself to wait inside he’d stepped out in the freezing cold and
what he was used to doing now when he needed to clear his mind, he lit
Carter flinched as he heard the loud bang of something being kicked and
tuned cautiously towards the entrance in time to see Benton lower
dejectedly to the ground. Carter swallowed awkwardly, Benton was not
most approachable person at the best of times and Carter was pretty
this moment he wanted to be left alone. However as he watched Benton’s
draw in visible deep breaths Carter realized leaving was not something
could bring himself to do, he wanted more than anything to help.
Benton grimaced as he heard the quiet familiar voice. He exhaled
didn’t look up.
‘I’m fine Carter, go back inside’
Carter paused and continued nervously.
‘I uh… I was already out here’
Benton sighed heavily and focused on breathing in and out in attempt to
still his rapidly beating heart. An awkward silence passed, Benton
perfectly still and made no effort to make eye contact with Carter.
while Carter cleared his throat awkwardly.
‘Dr Benton… I’m really sorry’
Benton chuckled softly to himself bitterly.
‘Yeah that’s great Carter… thanks’
Carter flinched slightly this was not going well at all. He stared
at the man in front of him wanting him to say something, give him some
indication of what he could say or do. Cautiously Carter made his way
to Benton and lowered himself down to sit besides him. Carter glanced
quickly at Benton who made no reaction to his presence; Carter rested
arms on his knees and stared out ahead for the time being remaining
Benton raised his head and sighed he looked away from Carter and then
straight back across the ambulance bay. Carter shot him another
glance and looked away timidly.
‘You smell like cigarettes’
Benton clenched his jaw after he spoke and continued to stare forwards.
Carter smiled slightly.
Benton rubbed his hand over his tired eyes and rested his elbow on his
letting his hand support his forehead. He looked over at Carter and
his head slowly.
‘I don’t want anyone around me ok’
Carter smiled awkwardly and glanced at the floor.
‘I know… I just… I didn’t want to leave you sitting here’
Benton looked away from him again.
‘I’m fine Carter let me handle this alone ok’
Carter watched the back of Benton’s head.
‘You don’t want to…’
Carter sighed as Benton cut him off.
He stood up awkwardly leaving the surgeon alone on the pavement. He
over him reluctant to leave.
‘Look Dr Benton… I… I know you don’t do this… at least not with me
well… if you ever wanted to um… you know… talk…. I would… I would be
Carter coughed gently resenting the fact that he could feel color start
flush in his cheeks. Benton chewed on his lip roughly and shook his
‘Yeah well if I was going to talk to anyone about this I wouldn’t talk
Carter gulped and frowned Benton’s comment stinging him a little more
he cared to admit. He sighed and laughed softly.
‘Fine… I just wanted to help’
Benton gritted his teeth and stared at the floor.
‘Look Carter you don’t know anything about this situation or me or my
ok so stop trying to help me. If you’re trying to repay me for a few
ago or something it’s fine alright I don’t expect anything from you’
Benton frowned as the words left his mouth, they sounded a lot harsher
he had intended and he wasn’t sure exactly what he was trying to do, He
glanced up apprehensively.
Carter took a full step back as Benton’s words hit him like a
sledgehammer. He stared back at Benton, he felt like the man had just
slapped him... and hard. He gulped furious with himself as he started
feel tears welling up in his eyes. Swallowing them back with difficulty
forced himself to lock eyes with Benton not caring that his expression
showed slight guilt.
Carter spat out the words as forcefully as he could then turned
walked quickly back towards the ER.
Benton jumped to his feet quickly and turned to watch as Carter hurried
through the entrance. He cursed in exasperation placing his hands on
hips and staring at the floor. He’d just wanted to be left alone; he
meant it like that. Benton could feeling his breathing start to
again as he felt anger, this time with himself. He couldn’t shake the
on Carter’s face as he’d spoken to him; he hadn’t meant to hurt him.
turned around fuming he spotted the trashcan and gave it another
The trash can groaned under the weight and tipped to the side it’s
spilling and littering the ground in front of him. Benton sighed in
exasperation and stared at the mess in front of him. He’d clean it up,
force himself to, it was no more than he deserved.