Authors Notes: I want to thank each and every one of you for clicking on the link to the last chapter of this story. I really took forever on this one, and I truly apologize for making you wait so long. I wanted this ending to be perfect, so I went over it a gazillion times, and ya know what, it's still not perfect! But I think you may enjoy it! I wanted to try something different, so this chapter is a bit experimental. It switches from Carter to Abby's point of view quite often, and sometimes gives you the same moment over again from the opposite point of view. It might require a bit more thinking, or focus as you are reading. I really hope it isn't confusing. That's not the goal! Just know that when a sentence or paragraph starts with bold lettering, we are switching from Carter to Abbys point of view, or vice versa. I think it should be easy if you have been following the story. Which brings me to my next, and last, point- If you have a moment, I suggest skimming over the last chapter or two because this chapter is a close continuation of the last one and makes a lot of references to things that have happened in previous chapters. But if you dont want to do that, here aresome things you should remember: Carter has been sleeping at Abbys for the last month or so. They'resharing a bed, but keeping their paws off each other, except for the occassional cuddle. Abby was asked out by a lawyer who she turned down by telling him she was married, and then told Carter about it. Carter is dreaming about building a life and a family with Abby and he shares this with her at the wrong moment and scares her into asking him to leave. . .

Thanks for reading guys! I really hope that you have enjoyed this story. And thanks so much for all your kind reviews and for the encouragement to keep writing!


"Fly Away Home"

There's a leak on the ceiling in the damp hallway of Abby's apartment building. It's the first thing that I focus on as I step out her door . . . And its misery, all of this, leaving her here, the soft and steady drops of water falling into a bucket on the floor. I reach the security door at the entrance to the building and turn around before I exit, half expecting Abby to have followed me out, to ask me to stay. But I see in an instant that she hasn't changed her mind and I stand here waiting just a couple more seconds only to give her one more chance to do so. I listen as five more drops of water fall from the ceiling and it's now that I realize I have been standing here for almost ten minutes and Abby has probably gone back to sleep. So I turn around and walk out the door.

I wipe the tears from my eyes and swiftly turn my back to the door. If I watch him leave I'll just run after him and beg him to stay and crumble underneath him, exposing everything that I have tried to hide ever since we got into this whole mess. So I walk over to the couch and turn the lamp off, the apartment morphing quickly into a hollow black shell. I rub my hands over my eyes for a minute and shiver suddenly at the quick drop in temperature. I'm not sure if it's even possible but it feels like the apartment just got ten degrees colder. Walking over to the thermostat, I turn my heat up for the first time in almost a month. I just haven't really needed it lately with Carter sleeping next to me, but tonight there will be no body heat, no crooks to cuddle into, no chest to lie upon. And I am feeling more alone than ever.


I walk through the hospital entrance in a complete haze. It's been five days of sleeping all by myself in my lonely and cold king size bed. There is something so sterile about my living space without Abby in it; its lacking heart and beauty and comfort, and parts of me that I never knew I would miss until I lost them.

I have only seen Abby one time since I left her apartment. We have been working almost all opposite shifts this week, not purposely, but it seems fitting that we've had some time apart. I worry about her going home sometimes, when I watch her leave the hospital late at night I pray that she had chosen to drive to work instead of taking the el. I worry about her on the train alone late at night and often fight the urge to call her and make sure she got home okay. I imagine her crawling into bed by herself and wonder too often if she feels as lonely as I do. I yearn to know what's going on in her head, if she misses my presence in her apartment, if her home feels as blank as mine does without her in it. I wonder if she feels like calling me in the middle of the night, when she wakes to find that she's still alone; I wonder if she's resisting the urge to let me back in, or if she is just running away from her feelings as fast as she can. No looking back.

I pass the lounge and peer inside it, catching Abby slipping off her jacket and throwing it into her locker. She places her stethoscope over her shoulders and pulls her long hair out from under its grasp. Its wavy today- her hair, and automatically I know that she must have fallen asleep with it wet, her long locks tied into a braid behind her head. I watch her as she pulls a tendril over her coat, remembering the last time she went to sleep with her hair still damp, how she cuddled into my shoulder all night because she was cold.

In an instant I am lost in my own thoughts as I stand in the middle of the hallway gaping at her, her beauty somehow freezing me into a pillar out in the corridor. I continue to stare as she organizes some things in her locker, noting the way her eyes fix so seriously onto the task at hand. I wonder if anybody else ever notices those little things about Abby, like the way she purses her lips when she's confused or how she runs her fingers under her nose when she's nervous. But my favorite Abby attribute is one that most people would never know about. It's the way that she used to look at me when we made love. Her eyes would glow like black coal embers, shinning in alight that she would radiate all on her own. Her look would get me every time, it literally had the power to bring me to my knees. I haven't really seen that look in over a year, except for that one time about six weeks ago when she kicked me out of her bed. She gave me that look just for a moment and I don't even know if she realized it. So I held her closer that night, prompting our emotionless screwing to turn into passionate love making. If only she knew that she really started it all. It was her look that did me in, the coal in her eyes and the way they commanded my attention.

She didn't even know about this "look" until I told her she did it. I told her that her eyes captivated me, that somehow she had the ability to draw me in with a simple look, and we laughed about it quickly, joking that she might be possessed by some unearthly creature. – Amysterious beautyfrom mars I thought, while she offered that she was a simple girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

Istand and watch her move abouther locker but I'm avoiding going inside, the content of my visions not ready to be smashed by reality quite yet. As much as I want to be close to her I can't bare being in the same room and pretending everything is okay, to act as if we are only colleagues. But in a quick second she turns around and catches me in the hall staring at her and I have to walk through the door.

I throw my jacket into my locker and grab my lab coat, swinging my stethoscope around my neck and checking my reflection in the mirror that's hanging on the inside of the door. Turning around quickly I move to the coffee machine and lift my head to find Carter standing in the hallway, staring into the lounge, and I'm pretty sure I've caught him staring at me. He bows his head and then looks back up, smiling sadly at his pathetic expression as he's been caught. Pushing through the door, he walks gingerly into the lounge, almost afraid to be in my presence. He's frightened of this first encounter, I think worried that we might not say the right things to each other. But all I feel as I watch him approach is that this encounter is coming way too soon, and even though I've missed him terribly, a part of me isn't ready to admit it yet.

"Hi." He keeps his head lowered to the floor, trying to avoid my eyes. He used to say that my eyes captivated him. No wonder he avoids them in awkward situations.

"Hi"

"You finally got a night shift . . . welcome to my world." He's dancing around his words, making sure that he doesn't say anything too personal to start out with, which is fine because that's exactly how I want it right now. I smile at his week attempt and pour us some coffee, glancing at him as I splash the creamer into his cup.

He mumbles a quick thank you and takes his mug and looks down at the floor and then up again quickly.

"I miss you" He says it with no warning at all, just a step away from me, a statement that totally catches me off guard, and all I can think of is how much I miss him too, and how much I don't want to say it.

"I'm right here." I mummer it blankly; it's all I can think of, a reply that is so terribly shitty to someone I care so terribly for. And I feel like an asshole the minute the words escape my lips. "I'm sorry."

I miss you too. I really really do. I miss you.

He cuts me off with his own apology, "No, no . . . I'm sorry," I can tell he feels bad for making such a declaration because he knows that I wasn't ready to hear it. He stands at the counter pondering this meeting for a moment and then decides to walk away from it. It doesn't hurt me, because I know that that's exactly what he's trying not to do. He's gotten the message that I'm not ready to talk and we both can't waist our energy pretending that everything is alright, making small talk and discussing the weather. So he leaves me standing at the coffee maker alone, watching him walk to the door and then he turns around for a brief moment to look back at me. "I guess I'll see you-" he motions with his finger out into the hospital, "around."

All I can do is nod my head at him and when he is out of my sight I collapse on the couch, exhausted from a simple seven words, seven words that were so personal, yet so impersonal at the same time. I can't help but think how exhausting it is to be like this, to live the way we're living, to yearn and yearn until your arms feel so empty that they just start to erode, start to disappear until you are left with two short stubs growing from your shoulders. And that's what I will look like in years to come, a person that has started to fade away, a weeping plant that hasn't been fed or watered in ages, but is still holding on, trying to make it. There will be friends and coworkers talking about me, the girl with the innocent face that wouldn't let anyone in, the one that had the chance and blew it away because she wanted to be the lady that lived with all those cats. And I would have lots and lots of cats, and feed them milk and cook dinner for them nightly, as if they were my family, mentally stable and full of unconditional love.

I throw my head back on to the arm rest and chide myself for how pathetic I imagine myself, for how ridiculous it is that I cant tell him that I miss him. And it's in this moment when I decide that I have to say it, and it has to be said now.

Jumping up from my seat, I slam my locker door and run out of the lounge and into the busy emergency room, my eyes darting in every direction looking for Carter. I take a quick walk through the layout, glancing into each curtain area, my hasty efforts unsuccessful as I'm about to give up. I raise my shoulders and let out a frustrated breath before opening the supply closet in one more attempt to find him. And of course here he is, sitting on a turned over waist bucket, collecting a pair of scrubs from the bottom shelf.

He looks up at me and raises his brows, noticing my winded appearance, his way of asking what's up.

"I was looking for you." I blurt it out and walk into the closet, closing the door behind me. The knob clicks and suddenly the lights are out, the door sending an automatic signal to the switch which must be a new feature. I feel around for the manual switch on the wall and I can feel both Carter and I quivering with nervous energy as I can't seem to find it. I hear him get up from the pail and his arm grazes mine, sending shivers down my spine. He's searching for the light switch with the palm of his hand and I can smell him close to me, his body almost pressed up against mine in the tightly enclosed space. He finally locates the switch and in an instant we are both bathed in a harsh florescent light, finding ourselves embarrassingly close to each other. He towers above me as I look up at him and in one tiny moment we almost reach for each other, but then he looks down at me before moving away, mumbling an apology for crowding my space. I thank him in a low whisper for finding the lights. Nervously, I motion with my hands at nothing in particular and it takes me a second to get out what I so desperately wanted to say just a minute ago.

"Um, I really didn't mean to be shitty back there."

"Its okay, you weren't . . .I got the hint."

I shake my head with a fair amount of force and speak as quickly as I can.

"There wasn't a hint . . . " And then slowly I drag it out, like a magician pulling a single color handkerchief froma sleeve only to reveal the next color and the next color and the next . . . "And . . . I miss you too."

He smiles for a moment, but then conceals his joy before answering me seriously. "Well what do you want to do about that?"

"I don't know yet."

She turns to walk out of the closet but before she goes I catch her hand, and in an instant we both gasp at the spark that cracks between our palms. I shocked her, literally. It must be the static on the freshly washed scrubs that I had been digging through. Cautiously, I reach out to her again.

"Could you let me know when you figure it out?"

She rubs her hand down her thigh as she processes my request and then she quietly shakes her head 'yes' before shutting the door and leaving me alone in the dark. Stupid sensors.

I let out a breath that I've been holding for what seems like hours and lye my back against the sheets stacked on the shelving in the wall. I could stay in here all day and think about Abby, and replay her words in my head a hundred times over. She misses me, possibly not as much as I miss her, but it's a start and I can't help but smile as I start to feel hopeful.

Getting up from my spot I head toward the front desk and I'm immediately flagged down by a man dressed sharply in a suit and tie. His hair is dark chocolate, messy pieces falling into his bright blue eyes and framing a young looking face. He approaches me with a soft smile, and he's a little cocky looking; I can tell he knows how to charm people.

"I'm here to see Dr. Lockhart."

"Do you have an emergency?"

"Just a headache, she fixed me up last time." I carefully size the handsome man up, realizing who he is and immediately holding back the urge to ring his neck. He's that "cute lawyer" that asked Abby out last week, the one that she turned down by telling him that she was married.

"Well, this isn't a private practice so you're going to have to wait over there until a doctor can see you." I brush him off, partly because this really isn't a private practice but mostly because I'd prefer him to stay as far away from Abby as possible.

"That's okay; I'll wait for Dr. Lockhart"

"She's gonna be a while." My words come out harshly as I've almost lost my patience with this guy, my hands turning into fists at my sides bellow the counter. I signal him to waiting area and smirk just a little and right as he is about to turn away Abby saunters over to us and I'm caught in a bit of a fib.

"Carter, did you sign off on my scabies girl?" I'm focused on trying to lead Abby's attention away from the Lawyer, and I am almost sidetracked when I notice her smiling softly;it seems thatthere has been a weight lifted from her shoulders since our conversation in the supply closet.

"No, I'll do that right now." I walk toward Abby and just about push her to turn in the other direction until Lawyer McHeadache butts in and grabs her by the arm.

"Hi, um, Dr. Lockhart?"

"Yes?" She looks down at my hand on her one arm and his hand on her other and then up at me with a confused expression.

"Remember me, the cute guy with the migraine that asked you out?" He let's go of her and lamely points to his head, trying to charm her and as I watch Abby's expression I notice that it's almost working.

She smiles shyly at him and pushes her hair behind her ears. "Yes, I remember."

"Where's your ring?"

"Excuse me?" She looks confused for a moment but I catch on, knowing exactly what this guy is searching for- evidence that she's taken.

"Your ring, I thought you said you were married" She's taken aback by the question and for a moment she cant find her words, so I jump in, putting my arm around Abby and pulling her back to my chest.

"She is, to me. There's just something about blood and guts that doesn't mix with the ten-carrot diamond that we picked out" I snootily look up at the young man after mock gazing at my "wife", my nose high in the air, and I'm enjoying this way too much. Abby looks up at me and gives me and roll of her eyes, not quite believing that I've just made up this fabrication. But she goes along with it and smiles at me affectionately, fending the handsome man off. He nods his head in embarrassment and looks down at his watch, pretending that he's got somewhere to be before he ducks out of the waiting area and scurries out to the ambulance bay.

We both watch the handsome man walk away and as soon as he's out of view Abby turns around in my arms and hits my shoulder playfully.

"You know, if you're going to tell people that were married, you can at least buy me the ten-carrot ring to make it look true." She raises her eyebrows applauding her own great idea and we share a laugh at her facetious comment. What she doesn't know is that I'd buy her a ring in a second, and it would look incredible, shinning fine speckles of light over every surface in her presence as it sits sweetly upon her perfect little finger. She smiles again and throws her head in the direction of her scabies patient, signaling me to follow her to see the poor girl.

As I walk behind her I watch the curve of her body with each sway of her hips and for a moment right beside her, I can see a shadow of my dream, a beautiful little girl with long pink ribbons fastened tightly to two pig tails. She's pulling on her mothers fingers and holding on to a Barbie lunchbox. Abby is running her hand over the top of her head, the sparkle of a beautiful stone catching the artificial light in the hallway as she strolls next to the apparition. In an instant the little girl is gone and I am stuck once again in the middle of the corridor staring at Abby instead of following her, and once again, she catches me. But this time she just pushes her bangs out of her eyes and smiles.

Standing in the middle of the hallway I watch Carter as he stairs in my direction, but it's almost as if he is looking right through me, off into space or into a fantasy world. I smile at him and try to imagine what he must be thinking about and I wonder if he thinks on the same level as I do; if he can't help but feel how tiring it is to care for someone, to worry about them constantly and to always have a nagging feeling that something might go wrong. He already knows this about me; he already knows that I'm scared to be with him. But now I know that I'm more scared to be without him. And that nagging feeling right now, is more welcome than ever.

I smile sweetly at him as I quickly ponder our complicated relationship and all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs. I wasn't joking; I want the ring! Tell me that you love me! I think you might love me! But he just keeps looking at me, lost in his own thoughts.

"Carter?" His eyes now are moving down my body, and I think focused somewhere at my side. "John!" I finally catch his attention and he snaps out of his trance, quickly looking up into my eyes and rubbing his own.

"Are you okay?" He finally looks up into my eyes and smiles like were meeting all over again, like we have just caught sight of each other for the first time. Love at first sight.

"Yeah . . . I'm perfect." He smiles wide and all I can do is smile back at him. Well, not perfect . . .but close.

In my worst nightmares I am a mother to an alien creature, a literal monster with fangs and drool and fingers as long as sipping straws. It's the being that I would had given birth to if I hadn't aborted what I thought was a sweet little face inside my belly. In my dreams it haunts me until I wake in a sweat, my knuckles white, my palms transparent. But tonight the dream has another ending. There are monster, many of them, climbing out of my uterus, breaking through my body. There are loud cries of agony and muffled sounds of sweet baby laughter in the distance. Burried underneath the chaos there's a man in a rocking chair. As he creeps into vision the monsters scurry away and I'm suddenly left with thesight of my best friend rocking our perfect new baby, tiny feet and tiny hands wrapped around his ringed finger. He smiles at me and asks, "Do you want to take her? She's hungry."

I reach my hands out to take her, soft baby skin upon my fingers and Johns hands on my arms. Smiling, I open my eyes and he is here, his soft gently hands running smoothly over my shoulder. The dream is far from over.

Walking down the dimly lit hallway I finger the key in my hands and then turn the door knob, the lamp light at the side of Abby's couch bathing the living room in a murky glow. I stand at the door and survey the apartment, for a moment wondering if Abby could possibly be awake. The home is silent and her bedroom door is closed and I wonder why she left the light on- perhaps for me, or perhaps to ease the loneliness.

I drop my key on the kitchen table and pull my sweatshirt over my head, the soft scent of lavender filling the air of Abbys worn apartment.I smile as I breathinherfamiliar pheromone, and somehow I feel that I've just found my way home.

I make my way toward her bedroom and let out a shaky breath before turning the knob quietly and walking to the bedside. She's sleeping on her back tonight, her chin tucked under her shoulder with her right arm draped across her breast. There's a sliver of light shining through a crack in her blinds, falling right over her forehead and down her chest, illuminating the outline of her pouty lips and casting shadows of her long eyelashes upon her cheeks. There isn't any possibility that she could look more beautiful than she does at this moment and all I can do for what seems like hours is stand here and watch her chest rise and fall. I move to sit on the edge of the bed and reach a hand out to her arm, trying my best not to startle her. My fingers graze over her shoulder and Abby stirs a bit, taking in a deep breath and stretching her arms over her head. I move my fingers down her arm and inch closer to her, letting her wake up slowly as I wait for her to open her eyes.

"Abby" I whisper her name into the air as she continues to stir out of her deep sleep, the gentle stroke of my hands drawing her from her groggy state. Like a cat, she stretches her limbs out and grazes the side of my leg, and then slightly startled by what she has hit, she opens her eyes. Abby breathes in the deepest breath and stares straight into me for what seems like days. She then lifts her hand and runs it over my leg, testing to make sure that I am really sitting on the bed beside her. It seems that she's been dreaming.

"How did you know?" She speaks in the softest whisper, only half awake and I have no idea what she is asking me.

"What?"

"That I was dreaming about you."

I look down at her as she closes her eyes again, switching between barely awake and barely sleeping. I whisper softly back at her and smile at the thought of her dreaming of me.

"I didn't"

Pulling her hair out of her face, I graze her cheek and lean in closer to her.

"But you're here" She pushes out these three beautiful breathy words and finally opens her eyes wide, now fully awake and smiling sweeter than I have ever seen her smile before. She doesn't make any effort to sit up, but she reaches her arm out from under the blanket and pulls the covers from her body, silently inviting me to slide underneath them. I kick my shoes off with the tip of my toes and climb close to Abby, running my hands delicately over her stomach and wrapping my arms around her waist.

"Are you awake, Abby?" I ask her with my mouth to her ear, just to be positive that she knows exactly what she is doing. I need to be sure that she is fully conscious of her decision to invite me into her bed, because the last things I want to do is take advantage of her.

She takes another deep breath as I feel her back expand and then fall back into my chest; she then exhales a breathy "yes". She slides her hands down my arms and then grasps my hand in hers, bringing it up to her lips to place a gentle kiss in my palm. My heart aches at the feeling of her lips on my skin and a shiver runs through my whole body as she pulls my arms even tighter around her. For a while we share a comfortable silence, both of us not making any effort to fall asleep. We are just enjoying the warmth of each others embrace and the steady beating of each others hearts.

Moments later Abby starts to stir in my arms, and for a brief second I am terrified that she has finally stepped back into her full consciousness and has realized that she doesn't want me here after all. But all she does is lift my arms a little bit off of her so she could turn around in my embrace and a second later we are face to face, chest to chest; our lips only a couple inches apart. She runs her hands down my back and settles in to our new position before she looks up at me with bright eyes, hopeful and open, and full of what I'm pretty sure could be - love? I run my finger down her face and lower my head a little, inching closer and closer until my nose is touching hers, our eye lashes grazing each others. And then I kiss her. Softly, our lips only slightly parted and it's the sweetest and most beautiful kiss that I have ever had and it is over all too quickly.

"John-"

I cut her off before she could protest, "Wait. Let me say something." I then pause for a moment before continuing; realizing that what ever words I say right now would be in adequate. They could never truly communicate to her just how much I want to be with her, how much time I have spent thinking about every way that I love her. But I'll try the best I can.

"I'm not here because I'm horny, or because I need sex so I can temporarily escape my misery." She looks up at me with wide eyes and shakes her head to let me know she understands. "I'm not miserable anymore. . . I'm in love."

I stroke the back of my fingers down her cheeks and then brush my thumb over her lips and although the room is nearly pitch black, I can see her smile, bright as day, and it illuminates the whole room.

"I'm here because I love you. . . I'm here to make love to you."

I remember that I told him that I thought I was dreaming and somehow I think that I still might be. Looking around the room I search for any other sign that I might actually be awake, but all I can see is him, lying over me, his fingers stroking light circles down my throat. He lets his hand run over my arm and then I feel his fingers squeeze me slowly, three times, and I know now at this moment that I am not dreaming anymore, that he is here, in the flesh, telling me that he loves me, showing me with his hands on my arm, with his eyes boring into mine, that he is ready to love me. All I can do at this moment is smile like I never have before. I can feel how this smile is different, the way that my lips are curving in a different manor, the way that the apples of my cheeks are rising so far up almost into my eyes. I open my mouth to talk, to say something along the lines of I love you too, or I love you even more, or something like I've been waiting my whole life to hear you say that! But nothing yet is coming out.

I run my finger over her smiling lips again and watch as she tries to form some kind of response and in another moment she just whispers back. "Okay." Okay. It's all I need to hear right now. She accepts it, she knows that I love her and there is no question in her eyes, just two lips curled into a smile and her arms circled so tightly around my back. In a millisecond her eyes close quickly and then open up again, but this time her look is sultry and sexy and indescribably heart stopping. She runs her hand up my back and cups the back of my head, taking and arching her chest into mine before kissing me, this time seriously. It's like a thousand doves were just freed from a cage, like the sun has just exploded into a thousand pieces catapulting rays of light into the sky and into this very bedroom. I lay my hands on either side of her and lift my body so I'm not crushing her, but she pulls me down to her more so that all of me is covering her, my legs tangled with hers under the sheets. Our lips are still glued together, our tongues exploring territory that seems both new and familiar at the same time. Her body responds with every touch of my hands with rays of fire blazing in the wake of my trails. She lifts her knee into the air to bring me even closer to her and I am floored by the passion that is coming from this woman. We have made love countless times, but never like this.

There is something different about this time. Something about the way that he is kissing me that is unlike any time that we have kissed before. This time there is contact, in every way, eyes connecting, fingers intertwining, legs colliding. It's like every part of us is meeting for the first time, all over again.

"Carter" She breaths my name in a little bit of a questioning manner and I know now that I will absolutely kill myself if she asks me to stop. But she smiles up at me for the third time this evening and then brings her mouth right up to my ear and whispers into it sending a shiver down my spine. "I love you too." Her warm breath tickles my ear as her hands move up my body to cup my face. Pulling her lips away from my ear she looks me straight in the eye, daring me to not believe that these words she's spoken are true. But I believe. I feel it in the way she is holding me. I see it in the way she is looking at me. I hear it with the sound of the confidence in her voice. She loves me just the same as I love her.

So I move my lips down to her throat and then over to her ear, and it is now my turn to make her shiver. "I know" She breathes a throaty laugh and playfully pushes me off of her, climbing over me and pulling her own t-shirt over her head in one swift motion. I reach out to touch her, to pull her warm body over me, to press her against me. And she is already leaning into me, pushing my t-shirt up over my chest. And there it is, that look-

"Your doing it."

"What?"

"That look in your eyes. How do you make them go dark like that?"

She shakes her head and smiles playfully.

"Maybe it's you."


It's crazy

I'm thinking just as long as you're around and here I'll be dancing on the ground

Am I right-side up or upside down?

To each other –we'll be facingmy love,my love

We'll beat back the pain we found

You know, I mean to tell you all the things I've been thinking

Deep inside my friend

Each moment the more I love you

So much you have given, love

that I would give you back again and again

Oh, love

Meaning I'll hold you but please, please

Just let me always

- Dave Matthews Band