AN: I just want to start by saying that I'm not personally familiar with AA and how the whole thing works. I'm doing a little research as I write, but I understand that it's always better to write about something you're familiar with. So I just want to be upfront now and make it clear that if I screw up on the details or have events happen that wouldn't normally happen, that I mean absolutely no disrespect to the program or anyone who has been through it or knows it well. (Also, for those of you waiting on chapters of Wild Heart, Last Man on Earth, or Red Strokes - they will still be coming out regularly. I'm hoping to finish all three within a week or so which is why I'm posting this one now.) Hope you enjoy this new idea :)

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

"Hey Carol," the nurse said with a tired smile. "Been a busy week, huh?"

Carol nodded her head sadly, "Sure has."

"Got another one, 7B. Alcohol poisoning. Almost lost him." The call bell went off and the nurse started to leave. "He's stable, awake and really cranky - good luck."

Carol looked down at the folder in her hand. She slowly opened it and pulled out a pamphlet and a flyer. She used to get nervous before walking into a hospital room to talk to a complete stranger about their drinking problem. But she'd been doing it for several years and she'd met all kinds of people. She was used to the angry reactions, the denial, and the resistance. There were some she couldn't get through to and it was quite obvious they didn't want help from her or anyone. There were easy ones that had hit rock bottom and were looking for someone to finally reach out to them. And there were the ones in between that acted tough and put up a good fight, but deep inside they were crying out for help. Those were Carol's favorites because she loved the challenge and the feeling of success when she finally got through to them.

She walked to 7B and rapped on the door jam before entering. What would this visit bring, she wondered. "Hi," she said politely. "My name is Carol and I just wanted to talk to you for a moment about the organization I work for, Alcoholics Anonymous."

"I ain't no damn alcoholic," the man snapped at her. "Don't bother wasting your time."

That was the typical response from almost every person she met with. Most were more polite though. She studied his face for a moment. Even though he'd been through alot in the last day or so she could tell he was a handsome man. She glanced at the information board for his name. "Daryl, is it?" she asked.

"Yeah," he grunted.

"Do you mind if I sit for a moment?" she asked, gesturing to a chair beside his bed.

"Whatever," he shrugged. "I just wanna go home," he added softly. It was the most gentle she'd heard his tone of voice yet.

"You've had a rough couple days," Carol said. "I'm sure you'll get out of here soon, but they need to make sure you're okay first."

"I'm fine," he snapped. "I had a little too much booze the other night and the next thing I knew I was in cuffs in the back of an ambulance."

"How often do you drink?" she asked gently.

"Ain't none of your fucking business," he hissed, glaring at her.

Carol took a breath and gave him a warm smile, "I'm just trying to help." She saw him soften instantly. He didn't say anything, but his body language changed enough to tell her that he felt bad for the way he was acting. That's when Carol knew he was from column number three - he was acting like he didn't need help, but inside he was scared and screaming for someone to save him. "I know it's really easy to just drink away your pain. But it's dangerous. You almost died Daryl…"

"The fuck do you know about pain?" he interrupted her. "Look at you, sitting pretty with your cushy job…"

"I'm a custodian at a school," Carol cut in. "This isn't my job. I don't get paid to be here. I'm a volunteer."

"Whatever," he growled, clearly embarrassed by his assumption. "You don't know me. You don't get it…"

"Oh but I do," she countered. "I was exactly where you are right now, just over 10 years ago." His scowl faded slightly and he narrowed his eyes. "I would have died if my neighbor hadn't come by to borrow the push mower." Carol started into her story. There weren't many times she'd used her own past to get through to someone. It was too personal and most of the time it was her last resort. But there was something so familiar in his eyes. It was the same look she'd seen in her own eyes every time she looked in the mirror - right before she cracked the lid on the vodka bottle and drank away her pain. "I was passed out on the kitchen floor, lying on my back asphyxiating on my own vomit when he came in." Daryl didn't speak, he just listened, wordlessly.

"My ex husband used to beat the shit out of me. I didn't drink because of the physical abuse," she shrugged. "It hurt, and sometimes I even craved the pain because it reminded me I was still alive." Carol shivered thinking of that dark place she'd been in. "I drank because I hated myself for staying. If I just got drunk I didn't have to think about how much of a coward I was to stay with a man who abused me every single day." She paused for a moment. "It feels good, doesn't it? When you drink to the point where you don't give a shit about anything anymore?" She looked at Daryl and saw the empathy in his eyes. "When I woke up that day I was here and I was scared. I tried to pretend I was fine, but they saw the bruises - they knew." Carol bit her lip. "I met the most amazing man, he's my sponsor now. He shared his own story with me and he made me realize that I needed help… When I finally accepted I had a problem, both the alcohol and the husband - that's when my world changed." She smiled at him again. "So yes, I do get it. And I'm here because I want to help you just like someone did for me a decade ago."

"I'm sorry that happened to you," He said, avoiding her eyes. Carol knew he'd seen himself in her and he just couldn't look at her right then. "But I'm fine… really."

Carol stood. "Listen, just come to a meeting. If it's not for you there are other ways we can help… but at least you tried." She set the papers on the table beside him. "I'll just leave those there for you to look at when you're ready." She had no idea why, but something made her lean in and kiss him on the forehead. He flinched slightly but didn't stop her. "There's a meeting tonight at 11, downstairs. You should try it." With that, she back away slowly towards the door. "It was nice to meet you Daryl. Please go to the meeting."

"You be there?" he grunted, finally looking at her again.

"If you want me to be there I will," Carol nodded. She hadn't intended on going that night, since it was still several hours away, but it would give her time to go home and shower first, grab some dinner, so it wouldn't be a huge deal.

"Didn't say I was gonna go…" Daryl mumbled.

"I'll see you at 11," she replied, giving him a little wave before disappearing. Success, Carol thought, allowing herself a little smile as she headed for the elevator.