Author's Note: This is my first ER fanfiction, guys, so be gentle. Most of it is finished but I'm posting this first chapter to see what the reviews are like before I add the rest (don't ask why, I just wanted to). Also, keep in mind that I am not a doctor so I have limited knowledge of medical terms and procedures.

Disclaimer: (Because everyone else seems to have one.) The characters used in this story are not mine, no matter how much I wish they were. (Can't I just have Abby??) Well, except for a few patients I made up.

*= This title refers to what Susan said after finishing her medical examination of Abby in "A Simple Twist of Fate."

Chapter 1

"It Could Have Been A Lot Worse"*

The pain was excruciating. In the past Abby had woken up with some massive hangovers, but the fear that was now pulsing through her body seemed to heighten the throbbing sensation in her head ten times worse than she had ever felt it the morning after a drinking binge. She finally forced her eyelids open and blinked a few times, adjusting to the light. A drop of something wet was on her face and her hand immediately felt around for the source. When she drew it back, her fingers were smeared with blood. And that's when it all came flooding back to her. Brian banging at the door, Abby making the mistake of even cracking it open just the slightest bit. Her heart pounded as she replayed the scene in her mind, the chain snapping off the door, trying to back away from Brian but unable to get anywhere, and then the impact of his fist that knocked her flat on her back.

Still slightly dazed, Abby struggled to sit up. She looked towards the front door, which was now shut. The kettle on the stove was whistling so loudly she could barely think straight. And then she suddenly remembered the phone. She had dialed 9-1-1... had it gone through? And would Brian be coming back? Forcing herself to think quickly, she got to her feet as steadily as possible and looked for the phone. That's when she realized she was not alone in the apartment.

"I told them it was a mistake." Brian was seated on Abby's sofa, the cordless phone dangling from his hands by its antenna. He lifted it for her to see. "The police. I said the kids were playing with the phone."

Abby stared blankly at the man, trying to comprehend what he was saying. He had just hit her with more force than anyone ever had in her entire life, so hard she blacked out, and now he was sitting on her couch and talking to her like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Crazy SOB. "Brian, get out of my apartment," she said, mustering as much courage as she could. She could feel blood trickling over her lips and chin, and she rubbed it away with the back of her hand, cringing at how much of it there was. "I'll have you arrested for assault, you sick fu-"

The man sprang from his seat with such speed it made Abby flinch. "All I want to know is where my wife is. I have that right. I am her husband! If you hadn't stuck your nose in where it didn't belong, none of this would have happened," Brian was saying, his voice loud and aggressive. "This is your fault, Abby. And I'm not going anywhere until you give me an answer."

Blocking out his ranting, Abby was forming a plan for escape. They were both about the same distance from the door, but Brian had the furniture to maneuver around. All she had to do was spin around and run. She hesitated only for a moment, and then she sped straight for her only way out of the apartment. Her hand was almost on the door when two strong hands clamped down on her shoulders, squeezing painfully. Abby gave a frightened cry as Brian shoved her away from the door and pinned her against the wall.

"Stop ignoring me, you bitch!" he screamed, his face just inches from hers. He clenched at her shoulders again, giving them another rough push back.

"Brian!" Abby barely recognized her own voice, its high, frantic pitch sounding unfamiliar. "Please, let me go..." She squirmed like a mouse with its tail caught in a trap, but Brian easily overpowered her. His hand covered her mouth, blocking the scream for help she was about to give.

The dead look in his eyes made Abby's skin crawl. She had seen the same thing when she opened the door minutes ago. If only she hadn't opened the door!

"You took her away from me," Brian said, his voice cracking. "You took her away from me. I can't let you do that." Twisting his hands into the silky fabric of Abby's robe, which by now was stained with her blood, he slung the woman away from the wall and sent her crashing to the floor. She was quick, scrambling on her hands and knees to get away, but Brian was quicker. Abby yelped in pain as his foot connected with her side, knocking the wind out of her. So this is what his wife had lived with everyday. Joyce had to be as twisted as Brian was, Abby thought.

Clutching her side, defeated, Abby crumpled into a ball on the floor. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks, making paths like little rivers through the sticky red blood that was drying on her face. She had never been so scared. Not even when she was a child and her mother had chased her through the house with a kitchen knife. At least Abby had known Maggie was someone who loved her, even if the woman was sick in the head. But Brian was sick in the head, and he obviously had no compassion for Abby whatsoever.

Other than the piercing whistle of the kettle, the only sound in the room was Brian's heavy footsteps as he circled the broken figure on the floor like a restless wolf deciding which position was best to attack its prey. His eyes traveled over the flesh exposed through Abby's light robe, which was no longer wrapped as tightly around her after the struggle. He remained fixated for a moment, not a single muscle in his stony face twitching when Abby whimpered softly.

"Maybe if you had a man of your own you'd understand. You don't come between two people in love. You don't mess with something like that," he muttered. His words sounded far away and meaningless to Abby. She felt like she was going to throw up. "Someone should have taught you that," he was saying, resolved. Abby cowered as he lowered himself to the floor. Brian yanked her towards him, forcing her knees apart. And then his hands were on her again, rough and groping, when before they had just been rough. She managed to swing her hand hard, delivering a sound slap to his face. He grabbed her wrist, twisting her arm sharply and pinning it above her head. Her free hand flailed for anything she could use as a weapon, but he soon had that hand held in place with the other one.

On her back with Brian now straddling her, there was no where for Abby to move. Her cries were muffled by the kettle, and soon drowned out all together as the man clamped a hand over her mouth. He still carried the scent of the takeout food she had ordered, mixed with an unmistakable smell of alcohol she hadn't been able to detect until now, his breath feeling close and hot and suffocating. Abby wished to God she hadn't poured that second glass of wine earlier. She squeezed her eyes shut, wanting to block out what was about to happen.

Brian's gaze remained cold and unmerciful with the first violent thrust. The closest he came to showing emotion was a satisfied look when Abby gasped sharply and squirmed beneath him. Joyce had never been much of a fighter, but he liked the struggle he got from Abby. He'd watched her since they had first moved into the building, her tiny frame carried in such a determined, confident stride. She was sexy, all right, and he knew she knew it. Women always did. It was that sarcastic, holier-than-thou attitude of hers he couldn't stand. He wanted to knock her down a peg, show her who was boss. Brian thrust harder. Now he was the one in control of the situation.

"Tell... me..." Brian's voice seemed deafening in Abby's ear, his lips mingling with her wet hair, moistened by tears of pain, frustration and humiliation. She clenched her teeth together, helpless against the violation and just wanting it to be over. An eternity had passed when the last forceful movement gave way to what sounded to Abby very much like an animal growl, then Brian's full weight rested on top of her small body. Still trapped. She wanted to kill Brian Westlake. If she had the strength she would have snapped his neck right at that moment.

"Tell me," he repeated, "Tell me where my wife is." His hand slid away from her mouth and Abby sucked in as much air as possible, gasping and choking.

She swallowed hard and didn't think about the words leaving her mouth. "A shelter." And finally her upper body was free as the man scooted back and sat up to look her in the eye.

"Where? Which shelter is it?" His tone was hopeful and out of place given the circumstances they were in. Through a blurriness of tears Abby could see the victory in his eyes.

"Where, Abby."

"Go to hell," she replied in a quivering whisper.

He hit her hard, a firm smack across the face. She wanted to hit him back, but she was too weak. Despite the absence of his immobilizing weight, her arms felt too heavy to move. She didn't have time anyway, because Brian spat out a string of obscenities and grabbed her by the sides of her head, jerking it up from the ground with a sharpness that made her cry out. As Abby waited for the next impact she saw the faces of the few people she truly longed to tell goodbye but would never get the chance to.