Every muscle in my body hates me

'Past Dances and Future Tears:'

Favourite Sins

Rating: PG-13 for bad words and innuendo:)

Category: Abby Angst

Disclaimers: My blockbuster video card doesn't cover anything contained within this story. I don't pay their salaries or spit-shine their shoes. I'm nothing. Don't worry about me. I'm OK.

Author's Note: I'm tying up all those pesky loose ends. This is an end of an end of sorts. Cryptic aren't I? Just get a mug of hot chocolate out and turn the lights down low. They were long over-due a puppy-dog tailed ending (well this was as good as, in my little world:).

The epilogue was inspired by something that Tori Amos once said and I'm thanking Bramble for that (for inadvertently inspiring me to ransack my Tori Amos quote archive:).

And before I trail off into that misty sunset I'm going to have to thank Samantha Caldwell for keeping me sane...well, sane*er*. I owe you too many Pop Tarts and smiley faces that I can be assed to type:)

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"Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it."

-Tori Amos

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I think that it was the right time.

For letting go.

I think we both needed to.

The world was really beginning to dance on the atoms of our fingertips, and we were really close. We were both really close.

Luka's a silent warmth next to my shoulder. Keeling over slightly, his head resting on his hands, which are resting on his knees. My hand forming loose figure eights on his knee.

Ten minutes until Dr Keller sees him.

He wanted this. He admitted as much when we had walked, hand in cold hand down the dark streets of Chicago. We didn't say much. We're not big on talk. But we said what needed to be said. All those words that clog up your pores and all those words that demand the right lighting and the right moon alignment to be said.

I wanted to give him more.

He didn't believe that he had more to give.

I said OK.

That's OK with me.

And I didn't break into a million pieces as I had anticipated.

I think I actually became a little more whole.

Feeding the infested and germ-breeding pigeons of Chicago was apparently the perfect setting for honesty. I told him about Carter. The part where he needed me. Where I think that I needed him. Not as the ex-junkie who I can play Battleships with during endless AA meetings and discuss all those alcoholic urges and needs. As the ex-junkie who I can talk to. About the stuff that clogs my pores and needs the rose tinted lighting. The guy who doesn't see alcoholic or daughter-of-crazy-mother tattooed across my face, although I'm pretty sure that it is.

He said that that was OK.

He said that I needed that.

And he doesn't know what happened. He doesn't know why. He can't define anything. That scares him.

I had smiled and said, that, admitting you have a problem is the hardest part, that admitting that you aren't OK is the hardest part.

After that everything becomes peachy keen.

I raise my head to look at him again. His hair hasn't yet been rendered defenseless by a thick layer of Bryl cream. It's wild and unkempt. Edgy and yet vulnerable.

I like it like this.

Makes him look like he's never seen a bad day in his life.

"Luka Kovac?"

He looks up at the neatly primed psychiatrist, and then at me.

It may just be the newfound lighting, but, I swear that he looks a little more whole. I smile and lean in towards him, planting a small kiss on his forehead.

And my eyes tell him that everything's OK. He's here and everything's OK.

...Because sometimes everything doesn't have to be kitties and bunnies and peaches...sometimes it's alright for it to just be OK.

I continue to watch him. He's almost through the door.

"Luka."

He turns to look back at me.

I smile. "Your hair's cute."

He looks at me for a long second and then breaks out into a grin. He thinks about this for a couple more seconds and then nods slowly.

He's still smiling when he walks inside.

* * * *


"Life, I love you! All is groovy"

–Paul Simon

* * * *

Every muscle in my body hates me.

They're all not-so-silently bitching about me. Why doesn't she just fucking sleep? How many hours of this does she think we can stand? Abbeeeee??

I ignore them all and open my locker. Each groan punctuated with a scrub shirt or a chart slamming against the empty lounge floor.

This place is getting to be home.

Ugh.

Hate my life. Hate my life. Hate my life.

I sigh, and pull on a fresh shirt that hasn't been soiled with blood or ectoplasm. My skin sighs with the luxury.

I turn to catch Dave giving me a leery look.

Great. Oh fucking great.

To be honest I don't give a damn if he did just see anything incriminating and if he is just going to go home and use this mental image for one-to-one entertainment purposes.

I'm not about to let him know this.

"Sorry didn't know you were in here."

Bet you didn't.

"S'OK."

He's still got that leery look on his face. Wait. That's not entirely true. He's always got that leery look on his face.

"I didn't see anything in case you were wondering."

Wasn't.

"I wanted you to see Dave. I knew you were watching."

His eyes widen. He was walking across to the coffee counter. He isn't anymore.

"Yeah?" His voice breaks on the a. He clears his throat in an attempt to cover this.

I smile in a PlayBoy-esque manner (pouting naked innocence wrapped in Donna Karen leather feathers -I'm sure you know the one) and pull on my jacket. "Sure Dave. I've been meaning to tell you how I feel about you for too long. Watching you in your scrub shirt and *those* jeans. Lets face it Dave, you're sexy. I'm sexy. We should get together sometime...be sexy together."

He's trying to find his lungs.

"uh...i...ok"

The blood continues to drain from his face. I hate to think where it is collecting.

I smile again.

"Hey Carter."

Dave's head whips round to see Carter. He glances back at me. His eyes are fearful. His hand's jammed in that cookie jar. No. Not his hand.

"..."

I wink at him. "Looking forward to it Dave."

Dave finds his legs are still functioning and leaves quickly, metaphorical tail drooping between his legs.

I laugh quietly to myself. I've been meaning to do that for too long. I should have taped it. Jing Mei would have killed to see his face. Priceless.

Carter's giving me a concerned look. He's right. Maybe I am going crazy.

I smile and begin to explain but then stop with a wave of my hand.

I sling my bag over my shoulder and sigh. I've been avoiding his company during the past few days. Giving him cheap, rushed excuses and apologetic smiles. He's called me too many times. I haven't returned any of them.

What would I say?

That kiss we shared just after I discovered that my mother wasn't dead and before I held the man I thought I could love in my arms as he fell apart, well, it was nice. Thanks. Must do it again sometime.

He opens his locker, and proceeds to pull his lab jacket off and his stethoscope and all that remains of his secret life as an amazing doctor. I wish people could see how amazing doctors are. I wish they could walk around supermarkets with little glowing halos and billowing organ music. They deserve it. Take one look at how screwed up they all are and how little money and respect they are given and you'll see it. They earned it.

"I didn't know you were on." He says whilst eyeing me from his locker.

"Um...yeah. Weaver called me in to help her out, Chunni has the flu. But, now I'm off, and my only intentions are of going home and curling up with my Mr. Bubble." I pause, "I don't know how I ever let Weaver talk me into working down here."

He smiles. "You're here the for the same reason that the rest of us are."

I pause and look at him. "To mend broken souls and do our small bit for the rest of humanity?"

He shakes his head wryly. "Nope, we're all here with the hopes that we may some day discover a new form of pus and get it named after us."

I smile. "Dreamer."

He grins and finishes with his perfectionist routine. His hair sitting in all the right places, his shirt looking starched and crisp. He cleans up pretty well for someone who only fifteen minutes ago was prancing around in baby sick.

I'm not about to tell him that he was prancing around.

"How's Maggie?"

"She's doing better now... She's back on her meds." I give him a small grin, "She sends you her love and kisses."

I can feel his eyebrows raise several degrees. "Ah, well I never turn down a Wyzinsky woman's offers of love and kisses."

I turn to catch the glimmer of playfulness in his eyes. It makes me smile. The realization. He's doing OK. He thinks he isn't and he has a long way to go in terms of recovery but he's doing OK.

"I've been calling you." He says a little woundedly after a while.

I don't look at him as I fill my mug. Concentrating on the little whirlpool that I create with my spoon. I want to apologize but I can't think of what I would be apologizing for.

"Yeah?"

"Have I...did I do something...?"

I turn to eye him directly, and find his eyes performing laser surgery on my forehead. "No...no. It's just...I've been busy. Why, was there anything you wanted to talk about?"

He thinks about this for a bit, his eyes still focused on me. "No. No, just, y'know. Missed you."

He's five feet away from me and yet he's managed to knock all the wind out of my lungs.

Missed you too Carter.

We're silent for a few moments, him busying himself with his unforgiving tie, and me, playing oh ye gode to the little Milky Way that I create with my spoon.

I hypnotize myself with this vortex. "You believe in forgiveness Carter?"

He raises his eyes to mine and then thinks for a second or two. "Depends...what kind?"

The vortex in my cup grows. "The kind that doesn't forgive back."

He watches me for a long second and then smiles faintly.

"Sure Abby."

He continues to smile kindly, and moves to stand next to me. Reaching for a mug and crossing into my personal space.

"So...you had anything to eat?"

I think about this as I look at him. "Um...Dave shared some of his Twinkies with me during lunch."

The mug gets placed onto the coffee counter, and his eyes dart back to my face. "You like Chinese food?"

"Chinese food?" I repeat as though discovering a new meaning in the word.

He frowns. "No? Well, we could just go down to this nice little jazz bar that I know." He leans in towards me conspiratorially. "We could get drunk on club sodas and bitch and wine about our miserable little lives together."

I grin at him apologetically. "You don't want me to disappoint my Mr. Bubble do you?"

He's giving me the puppy dog gaze. You know the one. The I-didn't-mean-to-pee-in-your-favourite-slippers-and-then-chew-on-your-favourite-sweater one. You know you know the one.

"I've just had...I'm just having A Day Carter. It's not you." I hesitate. Honesty. Currently my favourite deadly sin. "And I mean...I've been meaning to speak to you. About...about-"

"-The Kiss."

Honesty. Currently his favourite deadly sin.

"That. Right. But...I mean. Well..."

"You're wondering if it meant anything. How I feel about you?"

I watch him, my jaw deciding to obey the laws of gravity and sliding open. I nod slowly. "Um, well..."

"...Look, we can discuss that some other time..." he abandons the coffee, picks up his bag, slings it across his shoulder and then takes my surprised hand. "At least let me walk you home?"

"Walk me home?" This time I know there's another meaning in those words.

"Sure. Walk you home."

I remain stubbornly against the coffee counter. "That's two miles out of your zip code Carter."

He shrugs, and continues to pull on my waning resistance. He's giving me that Look again. Damn that Look. "Um...And we can get a Taco Bell? I have a real craving for Taco Bells."

He grins warmly. "Yeah. Sure. Taco Bells. C'mon."

And the lounge door slams shut behind the sound of inevitable change.

* * * *

"This isn't the end, nor is it the beginning of the end. It's the end of the beginning."

-Anon.

* * * *

Epilogue

* * * *

Loneliness and I never used to be on speaking terms.

We'd share the same bed, eat the same breakfast cereal and love the same people, but we'd never actually exchange anything other than grunts and the occasional spiteful gaze. We were each waiting for the other to back down, the other to admit defeat, and then we would dance over their corpses, the winner of some historic and bitter war. Blood was never spilt and words were never exchanged, but, it was the most painful battle that I've ever experienced.

I used to believe that I could hide her. Under smiles and rumpled bed sheets and brown paper bottles of distilled comfort. I used to believe that she could be hidden. That she *should* be hidden.

She isn't any more.

I can't explain when we undertook speaking terms, or where this silent agreement took place. I think that maybe it started slowly. Maybe I had smiled at her once, and maybe she had returned it. Maybe we had discussed the weather and her favourite colour over coffee. Maybe it had been me that had invited her into my life first, or maybe it was she who had done it.

It isn't important.

She's me in every way that I am her.

And you can't hide who you are. Not even with fifteen shots of vodka and the shortest black dress you can find. Trust me. She's still there. And you shouldn't hate who she is. Who you are.

We even go shopping now. Read books and bore ourselves to sleep on infomercials together.

And I no longer have to watch my back for her. Look out for her under my bed sheets. Stay awake at night fearing her company.

I mean.

She really knows some great shoe shops.

* * * *

"A lot of times, the animal that bit you, you have to go and commune with that animal to release the poison, to release that bite, to understand the infection that it causes."

-Tori Amos

*finite*

All done. Any comments and/or warm food can be sent along to: angelpixiedust@bolt.com where it will be greeted by joyous dancing:)