Picking Up The Pieces

An ER fan fiction by AbCaLuDa

**Standard disclaimers apply.

A/N: This is a story originally posted by a friend of mine. She gave it to me when I started writing ER fics in May, to do with as I pleased. I tried to stay true to what she had done, making only a few adjustments along the way…And after seven chapters (3 all new material by my own hand) I feel it isn't working. So…I am going to pull the story from ff.net and start over, using a first person narrator…So please bear with me…And please, please, please don't neglect the review option. It is there for a reason, and I thrive on feedback from my readers! That said, I'm going to get on with the story…

Chapter 1

I stay in the shower as long as I can stand it because the water soothes me and helps me forget the never-ending stress that is my life. As I step out of the stall and rub my head with the towel, my eyes catch my image in the mirror and I stand there just staring at myself. I've changed since Devin left, and I have to say I don't like what I've become.

The shrill cry of the phone startles me out of my thoughts, but I make no move to answer the call. I turn away from the mirror and wait for the answering machine to kick on.

"Carter, it's Luka," Luka Kovac's voice fills the apartment. As if he needs to identify himself with that accent. Who else would it be? "I need to talk to you. Please if you're there, pick up the phone. It's Abby."

I drop my towel like a hot potato and lunge for the phone. "Luka? I'm here. What is it? Is she all right?"

"No. Abby's…Abby's not hurt," he says but I don't like the tone of his words. "It's Mikhail. He's gone, Carter."

"Gone?" I repeat because I don't know what else to say. What else can I say?. "How?"

"She went to get him up from his nap. He wasn't breathing."

My mouth worked as if on a hinge. I tried to say something, anything, but I couldn't coordinate myself to form any words. I push my fingers against my eyes until a kaleidoscope of bright colors explodes like fireworks in my head. My ears buzzed with the shock and I had to sit on my bed to keep from falling to the floor. Mikhail. Gone. Abby's son. Dead

"Carter, will you see her?" Luka's voice cut into the fog around my consciousness. Would I see her? Of course I would see her. Didn't he know I lived to see her? She's my best friend, my only friend. Of course I want to see her. I want to be with her, comfort her, give her a shoulder to cry on…

"Where?" My voice is thin, weak. It doesn't even sound like me.

"County. She won't let anyone take him, and I thought…maybe she would give him to you."

I nod and push my hand against my eyes again to fight the onslaught of images and emotions careening through my mind. I can see her so clearly, sitting on one of the exam beds cradling her dead son to her chest.

I thought suddenly of Galen, Luka and Abby's five year old daughter. "Galen. Where's Galen?"

"Randi went to get her from school. They're not here yet."

"Okay. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

"Thank you, Carter."

You don't have to thank me, Luka, I mutter to myself as I hang up the phone. I stare at the receiver like it repulses me, but it's not the phone that sickens me. How could he be so calm? His son had died and he spoke of it like he had just bought a new car.

* * * * * * * *

I sit in my jeep outside the hospital for several minutes before I feel strong enough to go inside. I have to be strong for her. She has to know she can lean on me.

I make my way to the admit desk. Weaver is there, making notes on a chart. She looks up and half smiles.

"Where is she?"

Her eyes cloud over with sympathy and sadness. "Trauma Three."

I turn and head for the room. Someone else calls my name, or maybe it's Kerry, I can't really tell, and I don't care. Abby is my priority.

The blinds are turned down so I can't see in the room. I guess that's good, because it means no one else can see in either. I put my hand on the knob, but turning it, opening it, is a whole different challenge. How many times had I walked through this door? More times than I could count, but never like this…

"Carter…" I recognize Chuny's voice, but I don't respond. I shake my head and turn the knob, pushing the door open slightly. Luka is sitting on the exam stool, his hands in his lap. Abby is sitting on the bed, her knees drawn up to support her arms and the baby she's holding.

Luka stands and the dark, edgy look in his eyes speaks volumes about the fear and pain he is feeling. He's been through the death of a child before, losing two children and his wife all at once during the war in Croatia. Somehow I don't think that makes this any easier for him.

"Abby, I have to make a phone call. I'll be back soon." He moves toward the door and mouths 'thank you' to me.

I wait until he's gone before I take his place on the stool by the bed. Abby hasn't moved, not one muscle that I can tell. I reach out to lay my hand on her back. She whimpers and tries to move away from the touch.

"Abby, honey. I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I know you must feel like your whole world is crashing down around you, and that's how you should feel. There aren't words, Abby. We've seen death a million times, sometimes right here in this room. And it never gets any easier and you're never really prepared for it. But this isn't some trauma, this is your son, Abby, and you're allowed to scream and cry and rant about the injustice of it because it isn't right and it isn't fair."

Abby looks at me then, her eyes wild and unfocused. Her mouth opens then closes without a sound.

"Mikhail is gone, Abby. But your daughter is still here. She will be here any minute, and she needs you. She's going to need you to hold her and reassure her and tell her everything is going to be all right even though it doesn't seem like it right now."

"I don't…I don't know if…if I can, Carter. I'm not…I'm not that strong…"

I anticipate her falling forward and move to catch her in my arms. I move to sit on the bed with her and hold her against my shoulder. "Shhh, honey. Shhh. It's okay. I've got you. I've got you."

* * * * * * * * *

I hope it's not too confusing for anyone that I have started this story over. I struggled with this story all afternoon and finally decided it's the narration that was off, so here it is, the new and improved first person narrative. I think it's going to have alternating POVs because a consistent Carte POV won't know everything…But anyway, please, please, please use the review option to let me know your thoughts, and as always, thanks for reading!