A Year Ago Today

She sits on the bed, legs curled up to her chest as she watches the rain cascading down the window in intricate little patterns. She exhales in a small sigh, pulling the blankets up around her shoulders. The opening and closing of the door, accompanied by his footsteps fails to draw her out of her reverie…even the mattress sinking next to her fails to elicit much of a reaction. His hand creeps into hers, squeezing gently.

'You doing okay?' his question is gentle, knowing all too well that she doesn't respond to anything else. He knows her that well, as she turns to face him, expression unchanging for a lingering moment, before leaning forward to let her forehead touch his shoulder. He moved a hand to rub her lower back in small circles, feeling rather than hearing her shaky intake of breath as she fights to keep the tears from falling again.

'It's been a whole year, I shouldn't still feel like this' she eventually explains, her voice muffled by the soft material of his sweater. 'It's just…everything seemed to be going so well. I suppose in a way I should have anticipated it…the calm before the storm'

'No one could have predicted what would happen' his voice is gentle, reassuring, although he knows that no amount of words will help change the way she feels. 'It was…I don't know, there aren't any words to describe it'

'I just can't help wondering what I could have done to prevent it. I loved him, so much…maybe he didn't know that. Maybe I didn't tell him enough…he was such a good person. He didn't deserve that'

'You can't keep blaming yourself. Nothing you could have said, or done would have prevented this'

'I could have helped him! I could have done something…before it was too late. I still remember the looks on their faces as they looked at the clock in that trauma room, as clear as if it were yesterday. And I…remember feeling helpless. More helpless than I've ever felt in my entire life.'

'I know it hurts…and no one's asking you to forget him. There's no way that could happen' he continues, gesturing over to the picture of them, smiling and laughing, that still stands in the room, serving only as a reminder of the good times.

'You've been too good to me, this past year' she whispers, looking up at him with tears still burning her eyes. 'I didn't deserve it, not after the way I treated you'

'You didn't deserve what happened a year ago, neither did he. I'm the first to admit I barely knew him, but he was a good man'

'He was the best' she agrees, feeling her composure returning as he brushes the hair from her face. 'Its just…coming to terms with the fact that I'll never get to talk to him again…that's the worst part. That's the part that comes back to haunt me when I'm lying in bed at night'

'Nobody said it would be easy'

'But nobody said it would be this hard' she counters, her voice finally breaking as the first tears slide down her cheeks. He places a light kiss on her temple before wrapping both arms around her as sobs heave through her body. 'I just want to forget' she tells him, her voice muffled both by his sweater, and by her tears. 'I want to forget all of the pain, all of the nights when I've woken up crying because I can't stop his face from appearing whenever I close my eyes.' She pauses, reaching for his hand and holding on as tight as possible. 'But I'm scared that, if I forget all that I'll…forget what he was like before. Before all of this…'

'I'm not going to tell you that it'll all eventually fade away…or that you'll never forget…because I know it's not true. I've lived through this and it still hurts…especially when you come across another little detail that you just can't remember' he replies, pain clearly evident in his voice as she lifts her head from his shoulder to look at him. He cups her face in his hands and kisses the tears away from both cheeks. 'But the one thing I can guarantee is that you'll never forget him. You might forget exactly what he looked like, or exactly how he spoke…but you'll never forget the little things he said and did. And that's the important thing. That's what'll get you through this.' He looks down, blinking away the tears that have formed in his own eyes. 'That's what you want to remember'

'I know you're right' she eventually whispers, somewhat stunned at the raw emotion still evident in his voice. 'And I want it to be like that…'

'It won't happen instantly. You just have to believe that it will' he explains, looking at her. 'However long it takes, you're not going through this alone. I'll be here whenever you need to talk or cry or shout…and gradually, the need to cry and shout will get less.'

All need for words is momentarily put on hold as she nods her head slowly, settling herself back into his arms. She's still hurting, but the knowledge that he's there brings some relief from this pain. Eventually though, the silence is broken as she looks up at him once again.

'John?'

'Hmm?' he murmurs, meeting her gaze.

'Thank you. For being here…and just for being you. I really wouldn't have managed without you, but I never seemed to find the words to tell you how much I…'

'It's okay Abby, I know' he whispers, his finger on her lips silencing her. She nods slowly. 'Now, no more talk about Eric tonight, baby.' His statement is met with a nod, and he tucks her hair behind her ears once more.

She settles back into his embrace and he adjusts the blankets around her. They both turn their attention back to the window, still decorated with raindrops.

Chicago will bring them another normal day tomorrow, with barely any time for reflection. But for now, as they sit together…

…they both know there are some things that will never be forgotten.

Author's Notes: I stuck this down the bottom because…well it would've kinda given the game away if they were at the top! I tried to keep you guessing as to who it was…I tried my hand at the whole deception idea…did it work? Well that's what I'd like to know! So…feedback would be much appreciated. Either hit the review button or e-mail me – surrender_something@hotmail.com, I'm not fussed either way.

Quick thank-you to Brooke as always, my lovely beta! We just don't get to talk enough these days hunny…but you're still great ;) And I promise (promise, promise, promise) that Chapter 7 of "We'll Always Remember" will be up soon. In the next week, if I can create enough time to finish it…inspiration permitting. So watch this space, so to speak.

Love Sarah xxx

Just so we're clear on this one…I never said it wasn't JC/AL and I don't own a thing remotely connected to ER…oh and no spoilers, this is purely the deluded ideas that come at 11:30pm.