DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT own any of the characters from "ER". They belong to NBC and Warner Bros. The only character I do own is Brooke who is Abby's daughter.

"A Knight of Trust"

It was 4:34 in the morning, and I was still at the hospital. I would have been at home sleeping, but I decided to stay with Valerie until she woke up for awhile and was able to keep some liquid down. The L-VAD implantation had been successful, but there were still a few things to clear up. As I entered the

recovery room for what seemed like the ninth time, Valerie started to wake up. I saw her eyes begin to flutter, and she started to move a little. I quickly

went over to the bed and put my hand on her shoulder.

"No Valerie" I said gently. "You can't really move that much. At least not yet."

Valerie nodded, as she let out a frustrated sigh and a pained look crossed her face.

"Do you want some more Morphine" I asked, sitting down next to the bed and putting my chin in my hands.

Valerie nodded. "Yeah, it's sort of really hurting."

I gave her a sympathetic look. "It's okay" I assured her.

"It's gonna hurt for awhile. But you'll be fine, I promise. Are you thirsty"

Valerie shook her head.

The fact that she declined a drink of Apple Juice after being intubated and asleep for so long, got me a little worried.

As I stared at my watch, I noticed that it was almost 5:00. I would have to leave and get ready for rounds soon. And leaving Valerie, knowing there might

be something wrong, wasn't an easy thing to do. I had to figure out what was up, if anything. And I would have to figure it out fast.

Throughout rounds, my thoughts were on Valerie and her imminent setback. I couldn't quite place my finger on what was wrong yet though. Carter sensed that

I was off in another world, and he pulled me aside. We sat down together outside, and he looked into my eyes, concerned.

"Are you okay Luce" he asked. "You seem kind of distant. Brighten up, it's Christmas." He smiled, hoping to get a similar reaction from me. But I was too

worried to think about the holidays. I was kind of reluctant to dump my patient's problems on Carter, but, since he was a respected doctor, I figured he

might have a chance to help her, so I took a chance.

"It's this patient of mine, Valerie Page. 24 year old with cardiomyopathy, implanted an L-VAD until she can receive a donor heart." I said, hoping he was

interested in assisting in the case."

"An L-VAD" he questioned. "I thought those weren't available here until January."

"Well, I got one transferred here and got Romano to implant it for me. It took some convincing, but I got him to do it for me…for her." I responded.

He laughed. "So the rumors were true. I heard about a 'midnight visit' you paid to Romano but I didn't know the details. So what's the problem"

"She awoke around 4:30; I extubated her. She declined a drink after being intubated for hours, and is in a lot of pain. It also appears as if she may have

a low-grade fever. I'm not completely positive what might be going on, so I want another opinion" I grimly replied.

Carter's face stiffened. He sat up straight in his chair, visibly worried. He looked at me a moment before speaking. "I'll be honest with you Luce, it doesn't

sound promising. But let's not get too concerned just yet. Can you show me to her room"

"Sure" I said, relieved that he was willing to help. We walked together in silence towards Valerie's room, both wishing that she would be well enough to

celebrate Christmas today, even from her hospital bed. Carter paused at the door, and stepped aside. I gave him a confused look.

"What" I asked. "What are you waiting for"

He smiled sheepishly. "Ladies first."

I laughed. "And besides, she might get a little nervous if she sees someone new coming in the room after you've been there with her all day. Especially

if it's a

guy."

I nodded and smiled. "Carter….." I said as I gave him a quick hug. He returned it with a kiss and waited until I lead the way into the room.

As I walked into the room, I could see that Valerie was still asleep. I went over to the bed and gently placed my arm on her right shoulder.

"Valerie" I whispered gently. "Valerie. Are you awake"

A few minutes later, she started to stir. And move a little. As she opened her eyes, I could see tears welling up.

"What's wrong" I asked in concern.

"It hurts" Valerie whispered. "Really badly."

I turned to Carter for help. "It's gonna be okay" I whispered gently as I tried to sooth my friend and calm her fears. "I'm here with you. Don't worry.

Dr. Carter might be able to help too. I brought him to see if he can help us figure this whole thing out. He's a good doctor. Believe me."

Valerie nodded and glanced at Carter for a minute. "He's also good looking" Valerie said with a small smile.

I laughed slightly and so did Carter. It was a good sign to see that even though Valerie's health wasn't all the great, her sense of humor wasn't that far

gone. A few seconds later, I turned to Carter. "What should we do" I asked, hoping he would have a solution.

"Well, we have to figure out where the"

Just then, Valerie started swallowing really hard. This, made me REALLY concerned. "Does your chest hurt" I asked, trying to figure out why Valerie had

started swallowing as hard as she was. Valerie shook her head.

Carter must have known what was going to happen before I, because he got a bowl from across the room and brought it over to me. I gave him a puzzled look,

but took it anyway. What was he aiming at?

A few minutes later, Valerie started coughing al little bit. As she started to gag a little bit while coughing, I started blushing as I helped her to sit

up. I can't believe I was so stupid! Just as I put my arm around her to steady her balance, she started vomiting.

"Good call" I said to Carter as I straightened out Valerie's IV and made sure that nothing else was tangled.

"Tell me about it" Carter said as he filled a cup with ice chips. "These are new pants" I laughed slightly. For some reason Carter was finding a joke

in everything tonight.

The vomiting didn't stop for about fifteen minutes. This was definitely a BAD sign. I mean, it was normal for people to get sick after an operation, but

not every fifteen minutes. Something was wrong. VERY wrong.

A few hours later, I decided to go up to the roof to do a little thinking and regrouping. As I sat there, watching the commotion below, I felt a gentle

hand touch my shoulder. I turned around to see Carter standing behind me. Without warning, I collapsed in his grasp in tears.

"I didn't think it would turn out this way" I sobbed. "I just wanted to make a difference in Valerie's life. To give her a little hope. I didn't think

in a million years it would turn out this way. All I wanted to do was….." My voice trailed off in the distance as more tears came down.

"Shh, Luce, it's all right. Just let it out." Carte rsoothed as he began to stroke my light brown hair gently. "Shh, that's my girl, that's my girl. That's

it."

As I let the tears fall, I felt like I had totally betrayed Valerie. And that's exactly what I had done. I lied to her. Even if I didn't mean to, I still

did it. And right now, I felt HORRIBLE.

As I clung to Carter, I began to feel like I didn't want to leave his arms. I felt safe with him. Like nothing bad could ever happen. And there, I didn't

have to worry about facing what I had done. But I knew deep down inside that I had to face it. Whether I wanted to or not.

I rested my head on Carter's right shoulder for a long time while he continued to stroke my hair and rock me back and forth in efforts to sooth me and help

me to calm down.

A few minutes later, the tears started to cease and I started feeling a little bit better.

As I lifted my head for just a moment, I met Carter's loving and comforting eyes. As if he were reading my mind, he hugged me to him and whispered"It's

not your fault, Lucy, it's not your fault at all. You have to believe me when I tell you that. Because it's true."

"Then why do I feel so awful" I asked as I let the last few remaining tears fall.

"You feel awful because you care about Valerie. Because you care about people. You are a VERY caring person, Lucy Knight. And that's what I love about you

the most. And I meant what I said back when we were looking for Corrina's father. You were one of my VERY promising students. And now you are on your way

to becoming a VERY promising doctor. I only saying these things because they are true. And because you are one my BEST friends, Luce. And when I see you

hurting, I hurt even more." As Carter gave me another hug and planted a kiss on my cheek, the tears came again. This time it was mixed from leftover hurt

and a newfound friendship that I had forgotten existed. Carter really and truly cared about me and that made me feel a WHOLE lot better.

As I got up to go back into the hospital, I gave John a hug.

"Thank you, Carter" I said gratefully. "Thank you for everything."

"No problem, Luce. And remember what I said."

"I will" I replied earnestly.

As we entered the hospital, my beeper went off.

"It's Kerry" I said in surprise.

"Why would she been paging me"

Carter shrugged.

"First time for everything I guess." He replied with a laugh as we went our separate ways.

As I reached the admit desk, I stopped to catch my breath.

"Where's Dr. Weaver" I asked Randi who was in the middle of filing charts and answering phones.

"Uh, I think she's in room 242" Randi answered and went back to her filing.

"Thanks" I replied as I dashed for the elevator.

As I entered the room, Kerry quickly ushered me out of the room so that we could talk in private.

"Valerie is VERY sick" she began as we sat down on a bench outside of the room. "And I don't think she's going to make it through the night."

I nodded as I felt a rush of tears welling up in my eyes. I fought them back and forced myself to act professional.

"I-is there anything we could do" I asked, trying to sound otomistic.

Kerry shook her head.

"The only thing you can do is be there with her and try to make her as comfortable as possible. I know it doesn't seem like much, but believe me, sweetie,

in Valierie's eyes, it'll mean a LOT more."

I nodded as I went to go back into the room.

"And Lucy" Kerry said as she turend to leave also.

I turned around.

"Yeah"

"I'm sorry" she said sincerely and then headed back downstairs.

As I entered Valerie's room, I felt a shiver run down my spine. Then Carter's words of encouragement came floating back and I suddenly felt like I was ready

to face anything.

"Lucy" Valerie whispered as I walked into the room. I smiled.

"Yup, its' me."

"I'm going to die, aren't I"

As I sat down in a chair, I took Valierie's hand in mine, I nodded.

"This might sound really stupid, but I'm scared."

At that point, tears came rolling down her face. As she turned away, I shook my head.

"Valerie" I said softly. "You don't have to go through this alone. I'm here. I was with you when you first came into hospital and I'm with you now. Okay"

Valerie nodded as more tears came out. Realizing that she needed comforting, I helped her to sit up and I just held her for several minuites. As I helped

her to lie back down, I got an idea.

"Where exactly does it hurt the most" I asked, putting my right hand on Valerie's shoulder and fixing the IV with the other.

"My right side" Valierie replied.

"Okay. I have an idea that might buy you some time. I'm going to take you to CT and get a cardial-gram just to check something out. Do you mind"

Valerie shook her head.

"Whatever will do the trick."

When we reached CT, I tried to be as unsuspicious as possible.

After the scan was over, what I feared came true. The scan revealed nothing. Absolutely nothing. I felt like I had failed. Failed myself, failed County,

and most of all, failed Valerie.

"anything" Valierie asked when I approached to wheel her back to her room.

I shook my head.

"I'm sorry" I said sincerely as we returned to the third floor.

"It's not your fault" Valerie reassured me. "It was just meant to be."

As the hours passed, Valerie went in and out of consciousness and I tried not to go out of my mind waiting for it to happen.

Finally around 2:45 in the morning, the heart monitor started blaring like a car alarm on the fritz and the screen read asistaly. As it hit flatlined, I

heard someone come into the room. It was Carter.

As the monitor beeped for the last time, I chocked back a sob as I whispered"Time of death, 2:47 PM."

As I turned to leave, Carter put his arm around me, but I pulled away.

"Luce, I'm"

I shook my head and my blue eyes blazed with anger and hurt.

"Just leave me alone, John! Just LEAVE ME ALONE"

As I ran out of the room, I didn't even bother to look back. I was too upset and confused.

When I reached my destination, I sat down and just let the tears fall.

I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, someone was shaking me and calling my name.

"Lucy, Luce, wake up." I opened one eye to see my best friend, Abby Lockhart standing behind me.

As I sat up, everything came floating back to me and it hit me like a pile of IV poles. The emotions came back, along with the tears.

"Aw, Luce" Abby said gently and took me into her arms. "Shh, it's okay. It'll get better, I promise."

As Abby began to stroke my hair, I let out a frustrated sob.

"It's not fair" I whispered. "It's not fair at all."

"I hear ya" Abby replied truthfully. "Believe me, Lucy. I hear you."

As Abby sat there, helping me through my time of need, I made myself a promise. I promised myself that I would try my best to treat my patients with care

and not get as close as I got to Valerie. I knew it was gong to be a hard goal, but I was determined to reach it.

THE END

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