Author's Note: Hey there, Clez here. This will be my first ER fiction, so you'll have to excuse any… crap-ness, okay? XD I've loved the show for years, but a plot-bunny only just pinned me down. Anyway, hope you like, and keep your eyes open for an update pretty soon, muses willing, heh. A friend of mine is checking this over for me, also, and I know her as endlesscalamity; this is simply because I'm a Brit, and have only seen a few episodes of Season 11, where this is set, so she's checking that sort of stuff for me. Imagine this as being set somewhere around 'Try Carter' and 'Fear. Thanks!
CHAPTER ONE: PROLOGUE
"Well don't look at me! Why does everyone look at me?"
Running her hands over her face, she sighed into her palms, and calmed her fraying nerves before dropping them to her sides again, and then using them to emphasise as she said, "Look, I never implied it was you; you're jumping to conclusions." Of course, what she didn't need to tell him was that she herself had indeed reached a conclusion by jumping to it… but sharing that knowledge would only have him snapping in her face. It was quickly becoming something she liked very little, if at all.
"Yeah, right," he grumbled sarcastically, snatching the chart off the bed's end and scanning it. "You know this isn't my patient, right?"
Abigail Lockhart narrowed her eyes as her companion lowered the stiff board, and their eyes met. "What?" she muttered after a moment, reaching for the chart herself to take a second look, before he whirled it to her quickly.
"That is not my patient. This–" – he tapped the board with a finger – "is not my handwriting, as you well know, Lockhart."
Abby sighed, flustered and frustrated, her bangs drifting across her face and cheeks before she shrugged her arms out wide. "Well then whose is it?" She certainly didn't recognise it, and had assumed it was his because she'd seen him by this patient's bedside several times during the shift… of course, that could have had something to do with the 'hot' young woman laying in it; luckily unconscious.
A loud dispute by the desk not thirty feet from them turned their heads simultaneously, and they watched for a few moments as two people apparently squabbled over one thing or another.
"Why don't you ask Morris?" Ray Barnett inquired, offering the chart to her somewhat roughly. A little sheepish, she took it, and the two of them strode over to where Archie Morris was trying to pull something away from Jerry, who was at least twice his size… and possessed at least twice the brainpower. Easily, the larger man swatted at Morris, and batted him away, eliciting a rather whiny yelp from the redhead, who saw Abby and Ray gazing at him darkly; he practically withered.
What a glorious example of manhood this guy is, Abby mused idly as she beckoned him over with the chart. Impishly, he conceded, but not before he'd attempted to offer Jerry a scathing glare. Needless to say, he shrugged it off, and went back to eating whatever it was Morris had tried to get him to 'share'.
"Hey, Morris…" she began almost sweetly, "… you wouldn't have given Miss Waterman penicillin, would you?"
The skittish intern gazed from the silent Ray, to the inquisitive Abby, only realising who they were talking about when the former nodded his head towards the prone form of the woman. "Oh, yeah. How come?"
Abby twirled the chart, and thrust it in his face, nearly shoving him backwards. "And would you, by any chance, know how to read?"
"What do you mean?" he fumbled, scanning over the paper to try and find his mistake.
"She's allergic to penicillin, Morris," Ray said, jabbing at the chart with a pen he'd pulled out of Abby's pocket over her shoulder, possibly so he didn't have to move any closer to the fellow intern they were berating. "You're lucky she's not suing your ass. How about you check over the charts, huh?"
"Well I know I wasn't the only one checking something other than her chart, Barnett," Morris objected somewhat meekly, but with a little more fervour than when he'd responded to Abby, she noticed.
Before anything could happen to embarrass either of them – not to mention her – she put herself firmly between them, and locked eyes with the shorter of the two before her. "You think you can handle this mess on your own, or do you need a babysitter?"
Morris was blissfully silent for all of twenty seconds, before he muttered about his being fine, and then trudged away, back to Miss Waterman's bedside to see how much of a mistake he'd made. Taking her eyes away from him then, and promptly rolling them, she muttered to herself, "It's amazing he made it through the first years of medical school." Louder, she added, "How did he make such a stupid little mistake?"
Ray shrugged under his punk t-shirt and white coat, pulling his stethoscope from around his neck and holding it in his hands. "He's Morris?" he offered bluntly, making Abby crack a smile and nod approvingly.
"Good point." Her amusement of this fact lasted only a short while as the doors just about burst open with a gurney and the paramedics. Without so much as exchanging glances, the two interns sprung into action.
With the shift drawing to a close, she cast her eyes to the board again, gazing over the various styles of swift handwriting and signatures, too tired and sore to really make anything of it. She had an almighty throbbing behind her eyes and through her temples, and all she wanted to do was get back to a couch or a bed… and collapse on it for about ten hours. She'd been non-stop for about nine as it was, and just wanted to sit down; her feet – though used to long runs – were aching something chronic, and to be blunt, it was making her cranky. Muttering to herself, she rested her forehead on her hand again, looking down at the paper she had been working on when a tall figure loomed over her.
Samantha Taggart turned her weary head upwards, too lethargic to return Luka Kovac's affectionate grin. Normally his enthusiasm was infectious; but not tonight it seemed. She was just too tired, and it didn't show any signs of letting up.
"Are you all right?" he asked softly, leaning on the admin desk to be more at her level, something she was grateful for given it got her directly out of line with the lights, lessening the migraine somewhat. "You look exhausted."
"Well, then I look how I feel," she quipped dryly and with little in the way of humour, or even sarcasm… for once. Alex was going to give her so much more to worry about when she got home.
"Did you pick Alex up from soccer?"
Luka nodded, his dark hair bouncing lightly against his masculine brow for a moment, even as he gestured over his shoulder to where the ten year old was slouched unhealthily in a waiting room chair, next to a man nodding his head to something pounding down his earphones and through his skull. Relief washed through Sam; she'd forgotten all about him until now.
"Why don't you get your things and come back to my place? I'll make you guys some dinner, and you can stay the night if you like."
Persistence was one of the traits that made the man so charming… and annoying at times. She smiled regardless, wishing she could just collapse into his embrace at that moment. If it weren't for the small stack of things to do, she would have taken him up on his offer; as it was she was forced to say, "I can't, Luka. I've got a good hour or two left of my shift, and look at what I have to do." Shaking her head with a loud and unimpressed sigh, she added quietly, "New interns always give me such a migraine…"
Luka quirked a brow, smirking very discreetly, before he heard bickering down the hall, as did the nurse who leaned over the desk. Sam rolled her normally-bright eyes and slumped back to her feet, which protested from the teasing relief. "They've been at it pretty much all day before you ask."
Luka watched Abby and Ray stride past swiftly, debating over the results of a CAT-scan or something of the like. He chuckled softly, and shook his head slowly. "Come on, Sam… tell Carter you're finishing early."
Laughing very briefly, she looked up at him. He was unbelievable at times. "No, I can't. We're understaffed as it is. I can't leave Haleh with all of this; it's not fair."
"And it's not fair for you," he began, reaching over to stroke a curled layer of hair from her face, "to work if you're not well."
"Luka… it's just a headache."
"You said so yourself; it's a migraine."
If she wasn't falling deeper in love with him at that moment, she would have snapped her pen and thrown both parts at him in frustration. "I'm not checking out early because of a headache."
Luka cocked his head almost pleadingly to one side. "If you don't tell him, I will."
Jabbing her pen at him, she protested, "You will not. Now, can you take care of Alex for me 'til my shift ends? I'll call you when I'm done, okay?"
Sighing lightly, as if in defeat, he nodded, smiling handsomely for a moment, before leaning over to place a soft and brief kiss on her forehead. "Don't work too hard."
As he turned and walked away, she mumbled to herself, "Always do…"
Luka strode through the door after punching the switch, and walked up to Alex, who looked up at him almost expectantly before turning his gaze to his mother through the glass. "Mom isn't coming?"
"No, she has to finish her shift." Luka smiled regardless, and picked up Alex's duffel from the floor next to the boy's seat. "Come on; let's go back to my place. We can grab a pizza on the way home."
"Again?" Alex laughed quietly as he slid from his seat. "Mom'd kill me if she knew I was eating all this junk food."
Luka looked conspiratorially down at Alex, before saying slyly, "Well, what she doesn't know won't hurt her." Alex grinned lightly, before the two of them headed out, passing a pacing man who was constantly muttering to himself. Luka gave him a fleeting glance, before ducking out the door with his charge.
Dodging around a trolley as an orderly came around the corner, Ray looked to Lockhart again, shaking his head; why did she always have to challenge him on everything? It was like she was intentionally out to make him look stupid.
"You're just not seeing it from my point of view," he said to her sharply.
"No, I'm not, which is a good thing; I have my own opinion," was her fast response and she gestured very slightly with a hand, meeting his gaze for just a moment before looking where she was going again. The shift had gone rather quiet, save for the minor cases in the waiting room out front, and Ray was thankful for that; he was tired for a change, and even though the call room wasn't the best place to crash, he considered going up to the roof for a while after he'd finished. Maybe playing some guitar before relaxing would calm him down. He was more than a little stressed… and he was very close to simply blaming the other intern at his side.
"Just think about it for a minute," he suggested.
She laughed, shrugging. "Come on, I've thought about it already, and I think you're wrong."
Ray practically snorted, nearly running into another orderly with a slight grumble and a fleeting gaze in their direction to show his irritation. They almost smiled at him, before carrying on, and he had to jog to catch up with the shorter woman. He decided to drop the subject; it wasn't that important anyway, he supposed.
Unless you're that bothered about being right… which you are. He cleared his throat, lifting his hands to toy with the stethoscope about his neck before looking to Abby, and muttering, "… Fine."
Lockhart looked discreetly triumphant, a fact which aggravated Ray somewhat, but he'd promised himself he'd let it go… so he had to. He wasn't going to go back on his – internal or otherwise – word now, no matter how much it tempted him. He was too tired to debate anyway.
I need some coffee or something. There was still an hour left of the shift; he'd have to make a run to the lounge. He had a feeling that, were he to sit down, he'd fall asleep not long after, and that would be embarrassing to say the least. He gave a brief thought to asking Lockhart if she wanted a coffee as well, before the somewhat childish realisation of her winning the 'argument' came back to him, and he reconsidered it. Shaking it off, he looked around, realising they'd pretty much walked in a complete circuit around the ER, as impressive as that was. "Do you know where we're going?" he finally asked, impatient and realising his feet were starting to protest at the extensive travelling. They were passing Curtain Three again, and he furrowed his brow, looking to Lockhart and she gazed to him.
"I don't know where you're going, but I need a coffee; so, the lounge."
"We already passed the lounge," he informed her somewhat bluntly, rolling his eyes. "Why didn't you stop then?"
Abby simply shrugged, ending the silly conversation there, and Ray ran his hands over his face, giving a light groan. "Fine. Coffee it is."
As they came up towards the desk again, they passed Sam, who looked about ready to let her head slam down to the surface with a thud… which would be counterproductive to say the least. Abby halted, making Ray practically skid to a stop just afterwards with a curse muttered under his breath. Jerry chuckled, and Ray offered him the lightest of glares before coming up to the desk once again, pretending he'd never blundered, even as Abby asked, "You okay?"
The nurse lifted her head from the papers she was working on, and quirked a brow at the two of them. "Yeah… just tired. Why?"
Abby nodded, as Ray shoved his hands in the pocket of his jeans, shifting back his white coat as he did so, making it easier. He watched with feigned interest, not really paying too much attention.
"Yeah… you're not the only one who's said that. But I've got all these to finish, and I'm not going 'til they're done." Sam Taggart was stubborn to say the least… but Ray could relate with that, so he let it slide.
"Well, you want a coffee?"
Ray turned his eyes to the waiting room, at the minor cases who were still seated impatiently beyond the barricade door. He heard the light coughs and disputes from where he stood, and his eyes were drawn to a pacing figure in the background, who ran his hands over his balding head every now and again, his mouth moving in such a way that made it seem he were talking to himself. Ray narrowed his eyes, cocking his head when the man gazed in his direction. His pacing ceased, and he seemed to freeze for a few moments, before tearing his attention away, and returning to his almost nervous action.
Ray shrugged lightly, and turned his head back to the women as Sam agreed to a strong coffee, before Abby took off towards the lounge. Ray sighed, and gave chase, not trusting her to make his coffee without doing something to it, whether it be something as minor as too much – or little – sugar, or worse…