The Dress

RATING: Mostly PG but possibly PG13-depends on what you consider too much
SPOILERS: Not really. Some Season 8.
ARCHIVE: Just ask first, and let me know your site address.
DISCLAIMER: I own none of the characters of ER.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: In this story Carter and Abby are a couple but nobody knows.
SUMMARY: Abby and Carter are shopping for a dress for her to wear to Richard's wedding when their relationship takes a sudden turn.

Part 1

Abby looked in the windows of the boutique and gazed wistfully at the dress being worn by mannequin. She had to buy a dress to go to the wedding this Saturday, and she knew it would look good on her, but could she justify the expense? She could just go in and just try it on, just to see how it looked…but then she'd fall even more in love with it and then she'd have to buy it. Why did life have to be so difficult? She was so absorbed in staring at the dress, picturing the look on Richard's face when he saw her stroll into his reception wearing a dress that cost more than his entire wedding, that she didn't hear her boyfriend approach until his hands came down on her shoulders and shocked her back to reality.

"God, John, don't scare me like that! I nearly had a heart-attack!"

"What were you smiling at? Didn't you hear me call you?"

"I'm sorry, I was miles away."

"Oh yeah, what were you thinking?" His arm had snaked around her waist, and she leaned against his shoulder as he planted a kiss on the top of her head.

"I was trying to think what Richard's family would say if I walked into the reception wearing that dress. I never wore anything like that when we were married so they'd probably think I was just doing it to upstage his new wife. Which I suppose I am doing if I'm honest. I mean the only reason I'm invited in the first place is so he can play happy families in front of me and I'm damned if I'm going to act like I've been pining away for him when I'm the one who left him." She gave her head a little shake; she's already wasted too much of her time directing her anger towards Richard and she didn't intend to waste any more. She gave a little smile and continued "Besides, why do I need some fancy dress when I'm going to be walking in on the arm of one of the richest men in Chicago! Speaking of which, did you manage to get the evening off work…John… John…"

He had been listening to begin with until she drew his attention to the dress, and then he couldn't take his eyes away from it. He could hear her voice calling his name but it seemed far away. He was transfixed by the image in his mind of the ivory silk shift clinging to all of Abby's curves, the cowl neck drooping to reveal the top of the curve of her breasts, the long split in the skirt revealing the mid part of her thigh and the embroidered roses on the organza shawl matching the beautiful flush on her face after they had made love…that made him smile, and led his mind to thinking about other things…

"Carter!" She gave him a nudge in the ribs, instantly jerking him back to reality. He was in trouble now! The only times she called him 'Carter' nowadays was at work, where nobody knew about them, or when he was giving her his less than undivided attention.

"Abby, you have to buy that dress."

"Are you nuts, its nearly $2000! Its not like I have that kind of money lying around and besides, I don't want to piss Richard off that much!"

"I'm telling you, honey, you have to buy that dress. You'll look sensational and who knows," he leaned in close, giving her a series of kisses on her neck and then whispering in her ear, "you might even get lucky!"

"John Carter!" she laughed, pushing him away as he attempted to pull her closer and do something very personal in a very public place!

"Come on," he said, dragging her towards the door of the store, "at least try it on. You know you want to."

He was using the little-boy "please mummy I want a cookie" voice and giving her the puppy dog eyes, a lethal combination that they both knew would make her melt and do whatever he wanted, although in this case she didn't really need all that much persuading. She had already been debating whether to go in and try it on before John had shown up, so it wasn't like he was forcing her to do anything she didn't want to, but it was going to break her heart if she looked good in it because she wouldn't be able to buy it. God, she hoped it made her look fat! With that though in her head she followed him into the store, laughing along with him.

Part 2

They approached the superior looking sales woman and explained what they wanted. She gave a terse smile, asked Abby her dress size, and then whisked her out back to the spacious fitting rooms. Carter slumped into one of the chairs reserved for boyfriends who had been brought along on shopping trips, and he thought about how they had got where they were. After that day last summer when they thought they had found a case of smallpox in the ER he had realised how much Abby really meant to him. In one sharp moment of realisation he had seen a glimpse of what his life would be like without her in it and he knew that it was not something he was prepared to let happen. He had gone round to her flat and before she had the chance to ask any questions or get defensive on him he had kissed her, a long passionate kiss that was over two years in the making. She had been shocked at first, but he could tell that she had felt the same longing that he had. The kiss seemed to last forever, neither of them wanted to break contact. At last they broke for breath, still holding each other close. They simply stared at each other, softly panting as they tried to get their breath back. Then she had smiled "So, you want to come in?"

That had been it. They spent the entire night talking, holding each other as they caught up on all the conversations they had missed. He talked about his parents' divorce and how seeing Sobricki again had really shaken him up; she talked about her drinking and what she had really felt about his relationship with Susan Lewis. At the end of the evening it was like they had never been apart. Everything was the same as it had been before only better. They hadn't had to go in to work the next day because the department was still quarantined, so after waking up on the couch to find Abby lying in his arms Carter had made them both breakfast from the meagre contents in her fridge, then they had taken a walk in the park. The sun was shining, the sky was bright, and he was happy. As they walked along with their hot-dogs Carter looked over at Abby and reflected on the great change 24 hours could make in a man's life. If somebody had told him yesterday that he would be walking with his arm linked with Abby's, laughing at the shape of a cloud that looked like Dr Weaver in one of her moods, he would have told them they were crazy. Yet here he was. It was a dream come true. It was perfect. He stopped walking, and Abby stopped as well, looking at him quizzically. He bent down and gave her a soft lingering kiss that sent a thrill all the way down her spine. There had been a lot of kisses since that first one yesterday, but this one was different. This was passion, longing, desire, companionship and love. This was "I've found the perfect person for me". He looked deep into her eyes and said the words he had said on her doorstep last night, but which now also had new meaning…"I love you, Abby."

She had looked back into his eyes and said the same words. "I love you too, John."

They had made a quick retreat from the park and made their way back to her apartment, barely keeping their hands off each other. They were both eager to get their bodies in contact as soon as possible but their love making was not rushed. It was the most intimate and tender act either of them had ever indulged in, and when it was over they lay in bed sated. Abby drifted off to sleep against Carter's chest, one hand resting lightly on his shoulder, whilst Carter stayed awake for hours looking at the still form beside him and the listening to the soft sound of her breathing. He eventually drifted off into the first peaceful, uninterrupted sleep he had had in two years.

They both had recognised the need to keep their relationship a secret at work. Even though Carter and Luka were working towards building a tolerable working relationship, and Abby and Susan were trading pleasantries on a regular basis (occasionally even sharing a cup of coffee at Doc's) they didn't want to damage these fragile friendships by rubbing their exes noses in it. Also the rumour mill about them had finally dried up. People accepted that theirs was a close working relationship so no longer nudged each other whenever the two of them walked by in close conversation, so they didn't really want to start it up again. They could let the relationship move along at its own pace without the unsubtle comments of the fellow members of the ER staff. It was hard, though. Carter had to stop himself from touching her whenever they were near each other: it wasn't so bad if they were with a patient in one of the exam rooms, but when they were both standing at the nurses station he practically had to physically restrain himself from brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear, or simply running his hand along her arm to assure himself she was real. They had found plenty of opportunities to steal kisses, and there was always Doc's for their coffee break, but Carter wanted to shout out to everybody that he was in love with Abby. Would it ever be time to tell everybody?…

At that moment Abby emerged from the fitting room.

Parts 1-2   Parts 3-5   Parts 6-7   Part 8   Part 9   Part 10   Parts 11-12   Part 13   Part 14   Part 15
Part 16   Part 17   Part 18   Part 19   Part 20
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