Surviving Seattle - A Family Affair

AUTHOR: Lindsey
RATING: R (language and possible sexual situations)
SPOILERS: Generally, the entire series. Specifically, 'Luck of the Draw' - Season 1, episode 13, and 'Such Sweet Sorrow' - Season 6, episode 21
ARCHIVE: please email me and tell me where
DISCLAIMER: All characters are the sole property of NBC, Amblin and Constant c Productions (unless otherwise noted). These stories were written for pure enjoyment (by both the author and the readers) and in no way reflect what will happen on future episodes of 'ER'. These stories DO, however, contain SPOILERS from past episodes (which vary by story and are noted as such) so if you haven't seen certain episodes, read with caution!
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Authors live for reader feedback!! PLEASE let me know what you think of this (and any other) story. Your comments, questions and suggestions are all welcomed and greatly appreciated!! CHARACTER OWNERSHIP: Michael Ross, Leslie Fielding
SUMMARY: Take a look at what life is like for the Ross-Hathaway family after Carol's move to Seattle. Takes place on and immediately after 'Such Sweet Sorrow'.

"Where are the girls?"

"They're with my mom," Carol said, taking a look at her surroundings.  "It's beautiful here."

Doug just grinned and kissed her again.  Smoothing back her hair, he asked, "Are you staying?"

Nodding slightly, Carol looked up at him and smiled.  "I'm staying."

Just then, a rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance.  "We should get inside..." Doug mumbled, stroking her face. 

Lost in his touch, it was all Carol could do to mutter an "Mmm-hmm..." in reply.

"It's... gonna... rain..." Doug said, kissing her softly with each word, sending chills up her spine.  Chills she hadn't felt for what seemed like years.

Eventually, slowly, they made their way across the lawn and onto the front porch.  Pushing the screen door open, Doug kicked the main door with his foot, revealing a sprawling house with wood floors and a winding staircase. 

For a moment, Carol stood there, open-mouthed.  Giving her a grin and his signature chuckle, he literally swept Carol off her feet, causing her to let out a squeal of both surprise and happiness.

Once inside, Doug gently set Carol on her feet.  Taking her hand, he asked, "So, would you like the grand tour?"

At Carol's agreement, Doug led her around his spacious house, showing her the large kitchen, massive living room, three guest rooms and a master bed and bath.  "God, Doug, this place is beautiful," Carol commented as they found themselves back in the living room.  The rain began to fall then, pelting against the windows with a fast, continuous 'tap, tap, tap' sound, as thunder and lightening could be heard and seen in the distance.

"Have a seat," Doug said, gesturing Carol toward a black leather couch.

"Thanks," she said, settling herself against the cool material.  Suddenly uncomfortable, Carol slipped a stray curl behind her ear.  "So..." they said in unison.

Laughing nervously, Doug sat beside her.  "How are the girls?" he asked.

"Great," Carol said, grinning at the thought of her daughters.  "They're two happy, healthy, 6 month old bundles of energy."

Doug smiled as he listened to Carol talk about their girls.  He could easily see how much they meant to her and seeing that in person - seeing that it was all for real - made Doug's love and respect for Carol grow deeper.

"Look, Carol... I..."  Doug tried his best to put his thoughts into words.

Carol shook her head.  "Don't, Doug," she said.  "It's okay.  You don't have to..."

"No, just hear me out," he continued, taking her hand.  "I just want you to know that... I'm sorry... for... whatever pain... I caused you.  I never meant for things with Ricky to get out of control like they did.  I was selfish and I never should have left you alone, especially after I found out about the twins."

Carol smiled a bit, biting her lip.  She couldn't bring herself to look at him as she spoke, so she averted her gaze to the side at first, then as she continued to speak, she was able to look him in the eye.  "It's not your fault, Doug.  You... asked me to go with you.  I was the one who was too selfish and stubborn and prideful to accept.  And I thought about coming out here when I found out I was pregnant..." she trailed off, a lump forming in her throat.  She looked down at her hands, not wanting Doug to see the tears in her eyes.  She worked through the tears that threatened to overflow.  "I was just...  We've been fighting this for so long, Doug.  I never meant to screw up this... this family."

It was evident that Carol was trying her best not to cry.  Scooting closer to her, Doug cupped his hand around her chin, forcing her to look at him.  "Carol, you listen to me," he began, trying to comfort her, his voice gentle but serious.  "Please... don't blame yourself.  This isn't just one person's fault.  We both made the decisions in our relationship.  At the time, we both decided it would be best the way things were, didn't we?"  Carol nodded.  "Come 'ere," he said after a few moments of silence, pulling her into his lap.  "You're here now," he reminded her.  "That's what matters, right?"

Carol smiled, wiping at a tear that trickled down her cheek.  "Right," she whispered, as another flow of tears engulfed her.

They remained that way for what seemed like hours - Doug cradling Carol's head in his lap, stroking her hair, talking with her, laughing with her, wishing things had always been this way. 

A crack of thunder and streak of lightening both loud and bright enough to wake the dead jolted the two back to reality.  Sniffing and scratching his nose nervously, once again uncomfortable, Doug rose from his spot on the couch.  "Are you thirsty?  Can I get you anything?"

Carol smiled at Doug's nervousness.  "Sure.  I'll take wine, if you have it... please."

"Red, right?" he asked. 

Carol nodded, pleasantly surprised that he remembered, and watched him disappear into the kitchen.  Rising from her position on the couch, Carol walked over to the entertainment center where Doug had displayed several photographs.  Feeling like she was intruding, although she knew she wasn't, Carol looked apprehensively towards the kitchen as she looked at each picture. 

There were several pictures of Kate and Tess, a few of she and Doug, the ER staff at County, and a couple of Doug's family.  Carol smiled as each picture sparked a different memory.  A picture she'd sent the day the girls were born.  She and Doug boating on Lake Michigan.  An ER Christmas party.  Doug and his mom, Sarah.  Suddenly, Carol came across a picture of a young boy whom she didn't recognize.  Picking up the photograph, Carol noticed the child bore a striking resemblance to Doug.  He was an only child, so it couldn't have been a nephew, Carol knew. 

Just then, Doug sauntered back into the room and over to the entertainment center, handing Carol her drink.  "Thanks," she said, rather shyly.

Doug smiled at her, kissing her cheek, following her eyes to the pictures on the shelf.  "I love this one," he said, taking the shot of he and Carol on the lake and holding it close to him.  "Y'know, I... I used to... I used to take this picture and just, stare at it, for hours, hoping you'd come out here one day," he said as he looked down at her, rather embarrassed at his confession.  Doug grinned as he exchanged the boating photo for one of Carol, with Kate and Tess cradled in her arms, a few hours after they were born.  "This..." he said, staring at the photo with pride.  "This is my favorite."

Carol smiled a small smile and turned to the picture of the boy, lifting it gingerly off the shelf.  "Who's this?" she asked.

"That's, that's Michael..." he explained, tilting his head and gesturing toward the picture.  Doug shoved his hands in his pockets, cleared his throat and stared down at the floor.  "He's 14 now," he said softly.  "I never get to see him.  His-his mom... sent that over..." he stammered, scratching his head.  By now, little beads of sweat began to form on Doug's forehead and his heart felt as if it would burst from his chest at any moment.  He was unsure of how Carol would feel about him having a picture of his son - a reminder of his past life - around, now that they were together again, even if it was just for a few days.

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