What If..?

AUTHOR: Carter
EMAIL: LuvnWylenWard@aol.com
CATEGORY: JC/AL drama/ angst / Carby
RATING: PG-13 (for violence and language)
SPOILERS: This is set a little after Lockdown.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the ER characters.. Except maybe Carter.. In my dreams... But not really..... Don't sue me, I'm poor.. The song is Mariah Carey's "Anytime you need a friend."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Abby and Luka still have a little bit of problems working together. This is my first fic so don't hurt me. Also, if you have any suggestions, email me with "suggestion" in the subject line. Constructive criticism is welcome too.
SUMMARY: Carter's having a really bad day and Abby isn't really helping much...

* If you're lonely and need a friend.
If troubles seem like they never end.
Just remember to keep the faith,
And love will be there to light the way.
Anytime you need a friend, I will be here.
Never be alone again, so cold you feel.
Even if you're miles away, I'm by your side.
So don't you ever be lonely, love will make it alright.*

Abby sat at the admit desk, watching Carter's retreating figure. 'Get up! Go! Follow him Abby!' she silently willed herself to stop him before he got too far, to tell him that she loves him. As he walked out of the ambulance bay doors, she stood up trying to get herself to chase him. She tried to call to him, but the she couldn't find her voice. She was battling herself. Half of her knowing that she'll just get hurt in the end and the other half screaming at her to take a chance, that maybe she won't get hurt. He is a different man than all of the others that she dated. There was also another difference with him and the other men. She was able to talk to him about anything. She could just spill her thoughts and dreams out to him and he would listen. He wouldn't pretend to listen to her, he would actually listen. Luka had always been too busy, or too set in what he wanted, to listen to her. Richard, let's just not go there. Those were her two main relationships and each went down the drain.
She discovered that she no longer loved Luka that morning, twelve hours ago. They had broken up a long time ago, too long ago for her just to be realizing that she didn't love him anymore. Ten hours ago, she saw Luka with his new girlfriend. After she saw them leave together she ran off and tried to calm herself down by drowning herself in her work. Nine hours ago, she ran to Carter and cried on his shoulder. Not that she cared about Luka's love life or what he does with it, it was just that she wanted so badly to be comforted by someone and Carter was always there for her. Once again Carter proved himself to her by letting her cry on his shirt until she ran out of tears. She liked having a reason to be close to him, to feel the warmth of his body holding her, to be able to smell the detergent from his cloths. Carter had told her halfheartedly that he hoped things would get better between her and Luka and with complete honesty that 'everything's going to be OK.' Six hours ago, she and Carter went out to lunch. They talked about everything and nothing, like old times. Five hours ago, Luka got jealous after seeing them together most of the day. Three and a half hours ago, Luka and Carter got into a huge argument over her. It had gotten to the point where Carter asked Luka if he was going to bash every guys' head into the ground that talked to Abby and comforted her after Luka would make her cry. Luka got so close to Carter that it looked like Carter was going to be meeting Luka's fist very soon, but Carter showed no sign of fear towards the larger man. Abby was standing off to the side until that point and yelled at them for acting as if she was a helpless little girl. Luka made the comment under his breath as he shoved his way past Carter that she was a helpless little girl. A confused one at that. An hour ago, she realized that she was mostly just yelling at Luka for yelling at Carter, but noted that it didn't sound that way at all. A couple of seconds ago it occurred to her that she liked Carter. Screw it, she loves Carter.
Sweat trickled down her neck causing her hand to wipe it away without much though while she was thinking about all of this. Her hair was sticking to the back of her neck from the sweat. She was wearing a low cut, light blue shirt. Some spots on her shirt were darker than others from sweat. Her brown eyes were fixed on Carter. His white coat was billowing from the light breeze outside. Before she realized it, she was out the doors catching up to him. "John," his name was blurted out so suddenly, she glanced around to see if someone else had said it. He turned around to face her; he had heard her. His face showed exhaustion when he looked at her. After it registered to him who he was looking at, he prepared himself for her to yell at him some more and she could see that that was what he was doing. 'He thought I was mad at him,' she said to herself after seeing his expression. A small smile flickered across her lips.

*When the shadows are closing in,
And your spirit diminishing.
Just remember you're not alone,
And love will be there to guide you home
Anytime you need a friend, I will be here.
Never be alone again, so cold you feel.
Even if you're miles away, I'm by your side.
So don't you ever be lonely, love will make it alright.*

~Carter's POV~
"Abby?" Carter looked at her carefully. She seemed lost in thought. He felt so tired moments before, but when he saw her he was so relieved that she wanted to talk to him (and that she wasn't going to be yelling) that his thirty-two-hour shift felt like he had had the day off. He looked at her face and knew she was no longer with him. "Abby?" he said again. Concern showed in his eyes. His boyish charm dimmed by the stubble from not shaving yet and the constant concern for his patients and friends.
Within the past thirty-nine hours a lot had happened to him. To start it off, he woke up to a phone call from Anna del Amico. He had had a crush on her even after she left. She woke him up seven hours before his shift stared and three hours after he went to bed to inform him that she was getting married in a couple of weeks and that she'd like him to attend. He would have never been able to prepare himself for how much that hurt him. He figured he said something to the effect of okay because she told him that she would send him two, two-way tickets in that mail ASAP.  She also told him to bring the girlfriend she knows he has. By the time he got out of the shower and was fully awake he realized that he didn't know whom he was going to take since he hadn't dated anyone since breaking up with Susan. After taking as much time possible getting ready for work, he still had five hours to kill so he tried watching TV. Soon after taking a seat, he noted that there's nothing good on TV at seven o'clock in the morning. The next thing he knew, the phone was waking him up again. This time it was Jerry telling him that Kerry wanted him there as soon as he could show up. He reached the hospital a two and a half hours before his shift would actually start. He parked his jeep and walked to the ambulance bay. He put on his white lab coat and stethoscope then walked out into the hallway. Kerry ran into him and told him that she wasn't expecting him there so soon. She was thinking he'd be there in an hour, but since he's there he can take a hit and run; ETA three minutes. Four hours later he had to tell a twelve-year old girl's parents that their daughter had died. At first they were quiet, then the father became angry, and finally he stormed out of the hospital screaming that Dr. Carter will be receiving a lawsuit pretty soon. Twenty-one hours ago, Dr. Kovac went into the lounge ramming right into Carter and started their first fight that shift. Luka left, after about ten minutes of pointless yelling, to go home since his shift was over. Carter heard an ambulance pull in and Luka got sucked back into the ER whirlpool. After a cup of coffee, he went back to check on one of his patients still wondering why Luka was so mad at him. Two or so hours later, Luka's girlfriend came up and asked him if he'd seen Luka around. He told her 'no' just as the man of the conversation walked over. They left arm in arm to go to lunch. Carter saw Abby down the hallway watching them leave. Not too long afterwards, Abby came to him when he was on the break on the roof and cried on his shoulder. He'd hugged her until she stopped crying, which left a soggy spot on his shirt. He didn't admit it, but he liked it. He pretended that he hoped things between her and Luka would clear up, but he wasn't even convincing to himself that that was what he wanted. So, after saying that, he told her that it was going to be OK. At two o'clock, he asked her if she wanted to go out to lunch. They went and had a great time. At about three-ish, he noticed that Luka had been watching them together with a scowl on his face. Four and a half hours later, Kovac shoved Carter into the wall in the lounge from behind. They started yelling at each other and took it out into the hallway. Carter was trying to keep his voice low, but stern, and Kovac being all too loud for the both of them. One minute Kovac was in his face screaming something in Croatian and then the next thing he knew everything was quiet except Abby yelling at them for acting as if she were a confused little girl. As soon as she stormed off, Luka elbowed Carter and probably went home since he hadn't seen him since. After that incident, Carter went up to the roof and just stared. He stared at the buildings in the distance, at the clouds as they floated by, and at the planes off in the distance. His day had been hell. He wanted to get away, from the narcotics, the temptations down in the ER. Only now, instead of drugs, he was leaning over the edge of a sixty foot tall (is it sixty feet? Is it higher?) building. His gaze turned to the ground that was so far away. He could jump or he could do what Gant did. He could make it so that no one would ever know if it was an accident or if it was on purpose and make a nice, little stop at the L-station. It would be so quick and easy... 'No,' he decided. 'I can't do that after just one bad day. Ill get through today and tomorrow should be better. I'm off tomorrow,' he thought. Shaking his head he backed away and looked at his pager. He'd been up there for the past forty-five minutes. He went back don to the ER and passed on what charts he needed to pass on; the other were discharged. He went to the lounge and put away his stethoscope. He hadn't brought anything that day to work and he was so tired he forgot to take off his coat. He was hot and sweaty, but he was feeling lazy and taking it off would use up energy. He just wanted to go home and take a shower. Then he would sleep. He walked out of the ambulance bay doors only thinking about those three things: home, shower, and sleep. He was about to turn the corner to head towards his jeep when he heard his name and turned around to see Abby following him. As soon as he saw her the three things he wanted to do were stored away in the back of his mind somewhere. He said her name. She looked deep in thought which annoyed him because she stopped him for no reason, but then worried him as well. His concern showed on his face as sweat dripped down from his forehead. He felt a slight breeze which he thanked God for. It was eight o'clock at night and he was still sweating from the heat.

*If you just believe in me,
I will love you endlessly.
Take my hand, take me into your heart.
I'll be there forever baby,
I won't let go, I'll never let go.*

~Abby's POV~
 When Abby finally focused on Carter in front of her, she saw that he was worried. "Carter," she said not looking into his caring eyes, "I.." Her voice failed her. She knew what she wanted to say, she just couldn't say it. She was so scared (no, she wasn't scared, she was petrified) of what his reaction would be. Sweat had formed a ring around his neck. "Why are you wearing your coat? It's a damn sauna out here." 'What?' She was suddenly angry with herself. 'What was I supposed to do, run up to him and lay my heart out on the line? No, but you're supposed to at least try to keep up a better conversation than that.... Oh, shut up.' She laughed a little, she had just told herself to shut up.

*Anytime you need a friend, I will be here.
Never be alone again, so cold you feel.
Even if you're miles away, I'm by your side.
So don't you ever be lonely, love will make it alright.*

~Back to Carter~
"Abby? Are you OK?" Carter was getting more concerned for her. She had run up to him like it was a huge emergency, then asked why he wearing his coat, fell silent, and then started laughing to herself. "Abby?" He pulled at his tie to loosen it. He decided that he should have taken off his coat before he left. So he slipped it off and held it in one hand. He gently touched Abby's shoulder with the other hand, causing her to blink in surprise and look up into his eyes.
"What?" She looked confused, then embarrassed. "Sorry, I guess I wandered off there for a second." She smiled at him and tapped the side of her head.
"It's OK," he said, "I have to sneak back inside really quick to put this in my locker. Do you mind waiting? I'll be right back," he walked off after she nodded saying she would wait. He walked back into the ER and slipped into the lounge unnoticed. He was actually able to shove the coat in his locker, lock it up, and get back outside without being stopped by any of the staff members. He almost broke out into a run because he was scared someone would shove a chart into his hands and tell him to handle it. Abby was leaning against the wall on the corner. He walked over to her, "Abby?" She jumped and looked at him; she apparently didn't see him walk back. "I'm going to head home now, so I don't know what you're going to do. Is what you wanted to say important?" He looked at her patiently, little did he know that her heart was melting from him just looking at her like that. She shook her head telling him that it's not that important. He tilts his head a little, "Are you off or do you want to call me later?"
    "I'll call you later," she looked disappointed as she spoke. He didn't know if it was because of what he said or because of something she wasn't saying, but he was feeling tired again so he dismissed it. He nodded and touched her shoulder as he started to walk off. She hung her head and stepped off the sidewalk into the street to go to Doc Magoo's. Carter turned and saw Abby walking slowly across the street; he didn't know why he turned, he just did. Then he saw the car and knew why. It was speeding down the street. The speed it was going, the speed Abby was walking, they were definitely going to meet...

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