Author: madrigals PM
I want to change the world... instead, I sleep. Carter/OFC, AU seasons 4-6Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - J. Carter - Chapters: 17 - Words: 20,902 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 10-26-08 - Published: 10-06-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3822983
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I'm taking the plunge and posting the first couple chapters of this story. I've been a fan of ER for a long time (and writing for even longer), and basically this story is my way of coping with my frustration with the show's writers. I never see any decent Carter/OFCs, so hopefully this will compensate. As there is an OFC in this story, much of what takes place will be A/U — I trust everyone to be aware of what's real and what isn't. I'm fairly new to posting on this site, so if there's something in the author's note I'm forgetting or anything, please let me know! The story's set between seasons 4-6. Hope you take a chance on this one, and if you enjoy it thus far, leave a note! Thanks!
say goodnight gracie, good night gracie, and the unquestioning O of the barrel's end feeds me oxygen, spits in unnecessary breath . . . i'm where oh i'm there with tears in my hair, proud owner of a gun that memorizes lines of poetry and gets the last laugh by giving life instead of taking life away. "you ain't gon' do nothing stupid, is you, sister?" yes. i am staying here, upright, unbroken, deserving of this air.
— 'and then she,' patricia smith
She is certain of many things.
For instance, she knows that every morning at five a.m., her body will rise with the dawn. And rain, sleet, snow, or shine — she will run, as fast as she can, as long as she can, until her lungs shudder with every breath she takes and she can no longer feel her legs; but none of those things matter, because she will be so at peace with herself, and nothing can ruin that feeling. For a girl who is never by herself, this hour of running is her only chance to be alone with her thoughts.
She knows that the same person will be there waiting when she returns home, every morning, without fail. He will greet her in Afrikaans and point out the copy of the Sun-Times that he'd dragged in from the front porch. She'll make tea, and they'll sit and chat in their native tongue until the time comes for her to leave the house and head on out to wherever she's going that day. She is certain of these things, for they have been her life for the past four years. They're all she has come to know. Rise, run, sip, chat, work; repeat. Monotony is a constant she clings to, even in the darkest of hours. It's a difficult thing to give up.
This is Cook County General Hospital: stuffed to the gills with patients waiting to be seen, a regular freak show free for the viewing public. Harried staff weave in and out of the crowd, and the snow falls thick outside, requiring her to dust the spare sprinkles off her coat-covered shoulders as she makes her way out of the ambulance bay. It's not unlike any other day. And if you were to ask her for honesty, it would be no contest — County's ER is one place where Gracie Abrahams is certain of nothing.
She's greeted with exuberance by Doug Ross, who is stationed behind one of the computers at the admit desk. By habit, her nose wrinkles up into an indescribable expression at the nickname, which she'd been stuck with ever since being hired as a new nursing grad at County four years ago. She didn't really mind it, but seeing as the person who first originated the pet name was someone who she truly disliked, acting as if she hated it came with the territory.
"You working today?" Doug asks as she circles around the desk, pulling off her gloves and throwing them down on the counter next to him.
She purses her lips with a tight half-smile. "All day," she says, her tone of voice rather telling of her lack of enthusiasm. Doug chuckles knowingly, but before he can say anything, John Carter comes bustling up to admit, acknowledging Gracie with snarky words before she can even shrug her coat off.
"Where the hell have you been?" Carter demands, slapping a chart down in front of her. He looks angry, but he typically looks this way when working with her.
"Give me a goddamn break, I just got on," Gracie retorts rather wearily, adjusting the sleeves of her pink scrubs. She and Dr. Carter have never gotten along well — in fact, their enmity is the stuff of emergency room legend.
"I've been waiting for shift change for fifteen minutes!"
Gracie raises an eyebrow. He was trying her patience. She takes a deep breath in and rests her hands on the edge of the counter before replying, "Well, goodness, Doctor. Next time you decide to get ahead of yourself, and get all worked up fifteen minutes before the nurses' scheduled start time for the day shift, please, give me a call, I'll be sure to rush right in just for you."
They exchange a wordless glare for a few moments, until Carter plows on, pulling an x-ray film out of the chart. "I've got a guy, came in with hemoptysis and night sweats, ten pounds weight loss in a week's time, and radiodensities all over his right lung," he reports, holding the film up to the light so she can see.
Gracie squints at the chest film, immediately spotting the very visible radiodensities. "TB," she says expressionlessly.
"That's what I thought, too, he looks just like a TB guy," Carter says, and she knew just the type he was referring to: semi-homeless looking beard, and the generally dirty appearance of one who has had more than their share of hardships in life. "I need you to go with him to CT."
"Can't I set my fucking things down first?"
"No, you cannot," Carter sing-songs, turning his back and walking away, leaving the chart and chest film behind with her. It's a good thing he didn't look back, because Gracie was looking daggers in his direction.
Doug watches the exchange take place, and once Carter is gone, leans over, murmuring sardonically, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, right?"
She turns her scowl toward him, elbowing Doug in the ribs and stuffing the chest film inside the chart. She scoops the whole pile up and he chuckles the whole time, watching as she cradles the chart against her chest, pulling her stethoscope out of her bag and looping it around her neck. She stuffs a pen and her usual supplies into her pockets, adjusts her hospital ID, and asks Doug, "Can you throw my stuff in the lounge?"
He shrugs with a sort of no problem expression, and adds on an afterthought, "Hey, when you're done with Carter, I've got a kid in four — newly diagnosed type one; could use some diabetic counseling."
"I am but your slave for the next twelve hours, Dr. Ross," Gracie sighs dramatically as she begins to walk away. Carol sweeps by at just the right moment, catching wind of Gracie's words in time to pipe in some of her own.
"Don't tell him that, it inflates his ego."
Heading into Exam Two, Gracie finds Chuny prepping TB guy for transport to CT. They greet each other warmly, and Chuny hands off the case before going to clock out the end of her shift. Gracie cleans the man's ET tube with a suction cath, and follows the transporters as they push the gurney out the door like sea captains maneuvering oil tankers through the straits of Hormuz. At radiology, she finds a moment to step out, take off her N3 respirator, and get a drink of water before finally getting to clock in officially for her shift. But she's called back rather quickly.
"You gotta take a look at this," the tech says. She hurries in to look at the screen, and the tech's muttering aw, shit, under his breath, and Gracie finds the next few moments difficult to fathom. TB guy's got an enormous mass on his frontal lobe. She's heard of tuberculosis massing elsewhere in the body, where it's less potent than respiratory TB, but never before has she heard of brain TB.
This means she'll have to call Carter. Gracie swears loudly.
Carter is called to radiology, and one look is taken at the scans before an OR is booked. TB guy is taken up to surgery to get his brain cut open, and Gracie is left to return to the ER, marveling to herself over the oddity.
When she gets back, she notices that the nurses are rather giggly. A little too giggly. But it's an absent observation, since she's too busy flipping through the chart of Dr. Ross's diabetic kid to really pay attention. She should have become suspicious when Conni calls to her, "Hey, Africa, hand me that pen, will you?" Should have. Gracie still doesn't catch on, her eyes focused on her chart, her hand blindly reaching out for the pen in question, her feet on autopilot across the admit area, heading towards where Conni stands on the other side of the counter. She's so inattentive, that she's shocked when she runs straight into Carter.
He yelps, "Hey, watch it!"
She jumps back in surprise. She snaps, "Sorry. Didn't see you there."
"Pay more attention!"
Lydia's grinning. "Hey, guys..." She points, and the two slowly look upward.
They are standing under mistletoe.
Gracie still doesn't get it. She knows what mistletoe is, knows how popular it is as a Christmas decoration, but isn't keen to the traditions that follow it. The whole idea of 'kissing under the mistletoe' has always been a Hollywood fantasy to her, something that occurs in movies, and needless to say, Gracie isn't the type to analyze her life with starry eyes. She makes no connection between A and B.
Carter groans. "Oh, come on..."
"Nope!" Conni exclaims, clearly thrilled at this little sting operation the nurses had thrown together — what was apparently their idea of a very funny joke. "You gotta do it! It's tradition!"
"Do what?" Gracie asks, confused. "What's tradition?"
"Nothing," Carter says immediately, wanting to brush off the whole matter. He turns his attention back to the little audience they have garnered, pointing fiercely, as if the act would drive his point home any better. "I'm not doing it."
"You have to! And none of that cheek stuff!"
Carter looks extremely annoyed, and Gracie, for one, can't blame him. But she's shocked beyond belief when he leans over, and quickly presses his lips to hers. It's so brief that it almost seems like it didn't even happen, but it does, and when he pulls away and storms off without a word, Gracie remains behind, stock still. If she had been cold before, now she was warmed down to her toes.
And now she feels incredibly stupid for falling into this trap. She's simultaneously angered at the nurses, for arranging it, and Carter, for letting it happen. She hates him even more for that. It's quiet until Cynthia asks innocently, "It's Geseënde Kersfees, right, Gracie?" The words snap her back to the present.
Gracie announces immediately, to the amusement of the nurses, "I hate everyone." She hugs the chart to her chest before she, too, storms off.
The nurses smirk, while Cynthia looks on in confusion.
What is left to be certain of?