Ring Around The Rosie

An ER fan Fic by AbCaLuDa

**Standard disclaimers apply. If you're reading fan fic you should know what those disclaimers are. I'm not responsible for creating ER in any way shape or form, nor am I making money off the use of the characters…

Chapter One

The room seemed to be spinning way too fast. I take a deep breath, but it did little good. I could feel myself drifting, and I could do nothing but give in to the blackness that engulfed me like the heavy, salty smell of the ocean. Waves rolling against the sand, lulling like a sweet melody, and I was helpless against the hypnotic pull.

"Abby? Abby! Abby!" voices call to me, and I feel hands on my arms, fingers checking the pulse in my neck. "Abby! Can you hear me?" Of course I can hear you, Carter. I'm not deaf. But I can't talk. I can't move. I can't do anything but lay here. I don't want to talk or move. I want you to go away and let me rest in peace. "I need a gurney in here!"

Leave me alone, Carter. If I could talk, that's what I'd say. Leave me alone. It's just stress. I've been under a lot of stress lately, even before the trip to Oklahoma, even before my mother tried to kill herself...again. It's just stress, that's all it is. Stress. And who cares if it kills me? Maybe that's exactly what I want.

"Pulse is dropping!" He sounds frantic. Relax, Carter. I'm not going to die. Not yet anyway. I'm just tired. I need to rest. That's all. You try dealing with Maggie, you try calling Maggie "mom" and see how long it takes you to give up and fall on your face. Not that Carter's mother was much better, just not quite so crazy.

My mother isn't a bad person. She's just...she needs help. She needs someone to make sure she takes her meds. She needs someone to watch out for her, every move. I can't do it. I've got my own life. Or I did, before she came back again. Now I don't know what I have. But I do know I can't take care of her alone. I won't.

I don't even want to see her again. Part of me wishes she had died, right there in the back seat of the rental car from Oklahoma. Part of me wants to be the cause of her death, make her suffer as she has made me suffer.

Oh God. I can't do this. I can't. I need help. Carter. Oh God, Carter. Please help me. I can't do this alone.

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"Abby?" Carter's voice again. I try not to respond, but my eyes flutter and open anyway. He is standing over me, looking down, smiling his impish Carter grin. "Welcome back." The light catches his eyes and makes them sparkle for just a moment.

I say nothing, but close my eyes and turn my head to the side, away from him. I feel intense anger at myself for passing out at work, anger at him for being there and putting me on a gurney. Probably everyone in the hospital knows about it by now, and everyone would want to know what happened. Carter won't stop until he knows, and he has probably already ordered the test that would confirm my worst fears.

"You gave me quite a scare." I feel the heat of his touch on my shoulder, scalding me like a red hot poker straight from a fire.

"I passed out. That's all." I answer quickly, forcing the words out before I could change my mind. "I didn't eat breakfast this morning and I never had a chance to grab lunch either."

"You've been out for five minutes." He sits down on the stool by my bed, and despite myself I look over at him. He sits so regal-like, his back straight like the good little doctor he tries so hard to be.

"So?" I snap a little more harsh than I meant to. I know he means well, and he is a great friend. He's perhaps the best friend I've ever had. Hell, he's the only real friend I've had since grade school.

He takes a deep breath and pushes his fingers against his eyes like he does when he's tired or trying to think of a way to avoid something he knows he can't get out of. "So I ordered a pregnancy test."

"Carter..." I swear my heart skipped a beat to hear the words out loud.

"Don't worry, I didn't put your name on it."

Well, that was a relief. Such a Boy Scout, always trying to do the noble thing according to the patient and not hospital policy. But what did it matter really? It might buy me a little time, but not much. "I'm under a lot of stress, and I'm not eating right. I'm not pregnant."

"But it is possible, isn't it?"

"No." I snap at him, even when I know he is only trying to understand.

"You're not sleeping with Luka then?" Stop prying, Carter. Stop right now before I burst with all this anger and frustration I've got locked up inside.

I narrowed my eyes to glare at him. "That is none of your business." This time I did mean to sound harsh and critical and disgusted. He deserves it with a question like that.

"You're right. I'm sorry. I was out of line." He presses his fingers to his eyes again and issues a deep, weary sigh.

"Damn right you were." I sigh. My relationship with Luka had always been a sensitive subject for Carter and me. How could I ever tell him the truth? "Carter, I don't want to fight with you."

"I don't want to fight either."

"But I'm not pregnant." The very thought of it makes me feel nauseous and horrified. I can *not* be pregnant. I am the kind of woman who likes to admire babies and children from afar. I'm not the kind of woman who has babies. I wouldn't know what to do with a baby, my mother denied me a good, or even acceptable, example.

"I'm not pregnant." I say again, and the words dissolve into tears. Of course Carter was right there, scooping me up in his arms, holding my head against his shoulder so my tears soaked his lab coat. "I'm not...pregnant."

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In case anyone has a sense of de-ja-vu with this story, a friend of mine posted a couple chapters a few months ago under the title Girl Lost, but she gave it to me, because in her words, I am much more passionate about ER than she is. I may not even have to say that, but I feel obligated to let you know I have reworked the first few chapters, to give the fic a more Carby spin ;) Just hang in there with me, sit back, enjoy the read, and let me know what you think via the review button…Thanks