Title: Be Still My Beating Heart

Title:  One Day

Author:  Casca  Casccara@yahoo.com

Spoilers:  Nope. J

Archive:  Not without permission from moi! J

Feedback:  Yes, please!

                                                           

            John Truman Carter swung into the Hospital lounge and glanced at his watch, which read 5:45pm.  He took off the lab coat he'd been wearing and hung it up on the hook with all the other spare lab coats.  He was done.  His third year of Med school was officially over, he thought, as he held up a hand to Jerry and Carol and sauntered pass the desk.  He heard a chorus of "Bye, Carter"s from the people behind the desk.  "I will," he replied to all the wishes of "have a good summer!" and "stop by now and then!"  And he walked out. 

            He should be happy.  He should be ecstatic that he had the whole summer to do as he pleased, that the year of torture and hard work was finally over.  And he had been happy, a while ago, he had looked forward to this day, thinking it would be a day of freedom.  Ha.  When had he ever been free? 

            These were his cynical thoughts as he slid into his jeep and pulled out the plane ticket that said Alitalia.  Flight 607 for 9:54pm.  Feeling like a puppet on a string, he started the car and pulled out of the parking lot.

            Italy.  At 9:54 tonight he would be boarding a plane that would fly for eight hours to Venice, Italy.  Venice was beautiful at this time of year, Gamma had told him. The canals, the warm air, the gorgeous cathedral, The Piazza San Marco.

            He would rather spend an entire day at County doing rectals.

            His parents.  He didn't mind them so much normally.  Hell, he didn't know them that much normally.  He could count on one hand how many times he'd seen them in the past year.  He could count on two hands how many times he'd talked to them in the past year.  Yet they always had that hold on him.  He supposed it was because they were his parents.  Something about the title would always connect them to him.

            His parents were the only people in the world who could make him dread going to one of the Natural Wonders of the World, a place most people only dream about going to.  They had phoned him from Italy and requested his presence there.  Not quite in those words, really, but formal enough. 

            "John, darling, Seniore Guardo and his wife are very eager to meet you and your father and I haven't seen you in a while.  Join us for a few weeks.  Your Grandmother told me you are on summer break now.  Join us."

            John had protested, of course.  He'd never been one to talk back to his mother, but he made a valid point to her.  Why should he pick up and leave when he was just starting to settle down from his hectic year? 

            "It'll give you a chance to unwind, darling."

            He finally sighed.  He did miss his mother and his father.  But damn them for putting him into this predicament.  If he said no, he knew he would feel guilty.  Just as he knew his mother felt guilty for not seeing him often.  These were reasons enough for John to want to go and for his mother, Constance, to want him to join them.  But Carter knew better.  Seniore Guardo was a big Italian business owner.  Surely "He and His Wife" were not more than eager to meet Carter.  His parents were surely enthusiastic to show him off as their loving son, another possession they were so very proud of.

            How could they want to show him off when they hardly knew him?  He didn't even know himself these days.  He was a wreck, screwing up every minute in the ER, nearly sending his resident advisor, Dr. Benton into heart failure because of all his mistakes.  Perhaps over a nice pasta dinner, Carter could regal his parents and the Guardo's with the story of when he set fire to Dr. Benton's slides presentation.  And how Benton had stood up looking like a fool in front of the big wigs at the hospital.  That would be a surefire way to impress the Guardo's.  He'd probably send his mother into anafalectic shock. 

            He sighed, hating thinking about his parents this way.  He'd just suck it up.  It wasn't the worst thing in the world, having to visit Venice, Italy.  And who knew?  He might actually have a good time . . .  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            It turned out to be beautiful.  From the minute he stepped off the plane and onto a boat that would take him to his hotel, Carter had felt at peace with himself.  Had he once been worried about something as trivial as work?  How jaded his world seemed as he sat outside the grand hotel at a cafe's small round table sipping a mineral water and watching the canal life on the streets of Venice.  The world here was relaxing and tranquil . . . thinking of the ER was like thinking of a loud, fast, blur of noise.

            The streets of Venice.  It was more correct to say the waterways of Venice or the canals of Venice.  But being there, watching the boats of all sizes float along, their respective drivers calling out to one another, the occasional "road rage" scene taking place, Carter knew what the "Streets of Venice" meant. 

            It was his second day in Italy.  His first day was spent sleeping in the luxury of his hotel room, every so often getting up and eating.  The jet lag hit him hard, especially after working a 24-hour shift in the ER with only a thirty-minute nap.  But now, he was getting over his lag and found himself enjoying being in the city of Venice. 

            "Darling."

            He looked up as his mother swept down upon him.  Seating herself in a chair across from him and signaling the waiter of the cafe to bring her the same as her son.

            "Are you feeling better?"

            "Yes," he said, smiling at his mother.  "Very much, thanks."

            "I'm glad you came, John.  It means a lot to me.  And your father."

            "I'm glad I came too," he said, squeezing his mother's hand.  "I like it here."

            "I thought you would," she said, her voice tinted with laughter.  "Venice is very sappy and sentimental.  Just like you."

            He only smiled almost politely and sipped his water.

            "What?" she asked him.  "I know you better than you think, my dear."

            His smiled became a grin.  "That's a mom thing."

            "Perhaps." She squeezed his hand and then let it go.  "We're dining with the Guardo's tonight at the restaurant in the hotel.  Meet us there by eight, okay?"

            "Sure.  That's sounds good."

            "Would you like for me to arrange a tour for you in the meantime? Perhaps a history of the Catedrale San Marco?"

            Making it clear that she was busy and would not be able to give him a tour herself.  "Uh, no thanks.  I think I'm going to go for a walk."

            "Okay."  Constance Carter disappeared inside the hotel and Carter held up a hand to signal for the check.  After paying twelve dollars for two bottles of water (and shaking his head in amazement) he started walking down a pathway to the center of the city.  His hotel was situated right in the middle of the famous Piazza San Marco, or the Square of Saint Mark.  And it was the center of Venice.  A huge space where little stores of all kind lined the area, restaurants, glass shops, antiques.  Souvenir stands littered the sidewalks selling everything from cameras to rosaries.  There were fountains, statues, and colorful chairs from outdoor cafes.  The backdrop was the Adriatic Sea.  The front view was the gloriously ornate Saint Mark's Cathedral, towering into the sky.

            Carter watched the life that went on here, listening to the orchestra that was playing ironically sentimental American show tunes.  He had to smile at that.             

            "Si, Va bene, grazie."

            "Che problema?  Non abbiamo tempo!"

            "You like pizza?  I make special pizza for you!"

            "Prego!"

            The last line was for him.  Carter smiled at the pretty girl who'd welcomed him to her flower cart.  She was very Italian looking with long curly brown hair and huge dark eyes, which were flirting with him.  "You like?" she asked in the heavily accented voice, holding out an orange blossom. 

            "Thanks," he grinned, his dimples showing and accepted the flower. 

            "You are American?" the girl said carefully, smiling prettily. 

            "Yes, I am."

            "Which place?"

            "Which place . . .?  Oh, you mean which state?  Chicago."

            Her confused eyes lit up.  "Ahh. Burr!"  She pretended to shiver and hug herself like she was cold.

            Carter had to laugh.  "Yes.  Burr.  But now not, now it's really hot there."

            She shook her head, her eyes intensely trying to understand what he was saying. 

            "Only in winter," he said loud and slow.  "Now it's really hot."

            She simply gazed up at him with her big laughing brown eyes and shrugged helplessly.

            All of a sudden laughter rang out, a light giggle sound that made Carter flick a glance to his right.  Standing a few yards away was a young girl and a juggler.  The juggler seemed to be flirting outrageously with silent gestures and somber looks.  Carter's eyes fell on the girl's face when she laughed again.  Her smiled was a mile wide and her eyes were a gorgeous blue, bluer than even the Adriatic next to her.  She was squinting in the sun, but Carter could still see the blue of her eyes. Young, but not that young, he noted.  She was definitely not a child, but not an adult either.  He couldn't help smiling as he watched the clown joke with her and pull gently on her long blond hair. He stared for a while not even noticing the vendor girl watching him with a huge knowing smile.

            Leaning back on a street lamp, Carter watched the clown look somber and walk drearily away as the blonde girl laughed and shook her head.  She turned suddenly and met Carter's gaze.  Her blue eyes warmed, and her smile widened. 

            Feeling like he owned the world, Carter returned her grin with one of his own, hoping against hope that she spoke English.  They both started to close the distance, Carter pushing away from the post, the girl sidling towards him. 

            "Where have you been?  Lucy, Miss Starza is about to punish us all because you didn't meet us for dinner.  She's getting ready to have you paged."

            "What?" The girl named Lucy asked, distracted. "I got held up by this clown."

            "Clown?? Oooh, you met a guy!  Who cares if he's a clown, is he cute?"  And with that, she dragged Lucy away.  Lucy was muttering, "no, a REAL clown" and Carter was staring after her.

            About twenty seconds later, Carter realized what a fool he must look like, standing in the center of a walkway, staring into space.  The chime of a clock sent his gaze flying to the huge clock at the top of the Cathedral.  7:30.  7:30?!?!  He had to meet his parents for dinner in half an hour. Not having any time to marvel at how the hours had passed while wandering Venice and how pretty that girl had been, Carter raced down the sidewalk, tripping only once over his two left feet.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*                                                         

            Carter felt like he was on a race to make it to the hospital at the start of his shift.  He dressed in record speed, barely having time to glance in the mirror, and found his way to the hotel restaurant.  It looked just as fancy as the rest of the hotel and he straitened his tie.  He mumbled his name to the maitre'd and the stiff man in a tuxedo pointed to a table in the back of the restaurant.  As Carter neared the table, he could see his Mother and Father, a proper looking couple who must be the Guardo's.  And someone else.

            "John," his mother said pleasurably. 

            "Sorry, I'm late," he muttered, smiling politely at the Guardo's and the lovely brunette sitting in between them.  He took the empty seat.

            "John, these are the Guardo's," His father explained.  "Mr. and Mrs. Guardo and their daughter, Angelina."

            "Nice to meet you," he said, smiling.  Any pretense he'd had about his parents wanting him to join them in Italy for sentimental reasons flew out the window.  The woman, who was about his age, didn't look surprised to see him at all.  She was smiling serenely behind bright red lipstick.  She had a short, shiny cap of strait black hair and smoky gray eyes.  A striking woman.  Too bad he had to dislike her on principle.

            He could have wrote the script to the evening while he'd been on the plane had he known the Guardo's had a daughter.  His father, pretending to actually be happy with Carter's choice to be a doctor, going overboard to praise him.  His mother, chiming in with little hints that he was single, all the while was sending adoring looks to him. 

"In a weak, we are heading to the South at our family home in Capri.  We'd love for you and your family to join us," Mr. Guardo said. 

            "Oh, well, that sounds lovely!  Doesn't it sound lovely dear?" Constance asked Carter.

            "Yes, it does.  But my return flight is in a few days, I'm afraid I won't be able to make it."

            His return flight was actually in two weeks, but there would be no way his parents would correct him on front of the company.

            "Well, darling, we can see about extending the date.  It won't be a problem," his mother said sweetly.

            "I have things I need to do at home, Mother.  But thank you for the invite," he said to the Guardo's while his parents covered up their fury.

            When the dinner was over, Carter could have prompted his mother to suggest that the two "kids" get some air and go for a walk, but Mrs. Guardo took care of that.  So "the kids" made their way outside, while Carter thought about exchanging his plane ticket for an earlier return flight.

            He spent the evening with Angelina making small talk, trying to be as polite as he possibly could before saying he was tired and returning back to his hotel room.

            The next morning, he awoke to his mother pulling back the curtains in his room.  The bright Venice sun poured through the window, drenching his eyes.  "Mom.  What are you doing?"

            "I'm waking you up.  You have a date today."

            Carter sat up and stared at his mother.  "What?"

            Constance tried not to smile at the way his brown hair stood on ends as he tried to look angry in his Bulls Tee-Shirt.

            "With Angelina.  In Venice."

            "Mom.  Why are you doing this?"        

            "Because, John, you need to start thinking about your future."

            He couldn't hide the amusement in his voice.  "And you think this girl in my future.  Mom, I don't even know her, and I don't want to know her.  She seems nice enough, but-"

            "But, what?  Just because your father and I picked her out you wont even give her a chance?"

            "Picked her out," he said in amazement, throwing the covers off his bed and getting up to pace.  "Do you realize how twisted that sounds?  Picked her out."

            "John-"

            "Look.  I'll go out with her today to be polite, but that's it.  I'm switching my ticket and I'm leaving Venice this weak."

            "John, don't.  Just-"

            "Sorry, Mom.  But I know the reason I'm here, and I don't like it," he said in a final sort of way.

            "Honey, if we've hurt your feelings in anyway-"

            "The only person who hurt my feelings is Gamma by not telling me the reason you wanted me out here was to try to make me a part of your world.  I don't like that world."

           

            He met Angelina at the front of the hotel.  She was looking sharp in a dark sundress with her hair slicked and styled.  He smiled at her.  After all, it wasn't her fault his parents were sick and twisted human beings.  "Hi," he said. 

            "Hi."

            "Ready to go?" he asked.

            "Sure.  Uh, just a second.  Correct me if I'm wrong here, but you don't want to be with me today," she said matter-of-factly in her slight Italian accent.

            Carter tried to look surprised. 

            "I mean, your parents are mirror images of mine, if I'm correct you feel the same that I do about all this.  I mean you seem like a great guy, it's just-"

            "It's just not right."

            "No, it's not.  I hate it when my parents do this to me, I feel a –what do you call it? A puppet on a string or something."

            Carter breathed a sigh of relief.  "I agree.  Do you want to just-"

            "Go our separate ways?  I would love to."

            "Cool," he said.

            "How about if we give our parents a run for their money—what if, say we meet back here around midnight tonight?  This way, we can do as we please and avoid them in the process?  I'll stand guard if you want to go back to your room."

            "Actually I think I'll wander around Venice.  Thank you," he said sincerely.       

            "Thank you.  Midnight at that bridge over there?"

            "Cool," he said again.

            And they parted.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            Lucy Knight burst out laughing at her friend Caroline's impression of the guy they'd just had to shrug off.  It seemed American girls were a big hit with Italian boys and the group of high school girls from Boston were having a ball.  Lucy was ecstatic.  She was on vacation with her High School Italian class and things couldn't be better. Her Italian teacher and chaperone, Miss. Starza, was about to have a breakdown, but the girls were having a great time.

            "Let's get ice cream," Jenny suggested.

            "Gelato," Lucy corrected her.

            "I'm not hungry, I want to find a postcard stand-"

"Ooh, I wanna go in that glass shop!"

            "We spent an hour in there yesterday, didn't we, Luce?"

            "Yeah-"

            "It was right after Lucy met that hot guy," Caroline teased.

            "The clown?" the rest of the girls said in unison.

            "No, not the clown, the other guy!" Caroline said excitedly.

            "I didn't meet him! He was just sort of looking at me."

            "These Italian men," one girl sighed.

            "He had dark hair and dark eyes... " Lucy said dreamily.

            "All Italian men have dark hair and eyes-"

            "Are you blind!  That's ridiculous," Caroline said.

            "Well, he did," Lucy said.  "I bet he's Italian and speaks not one word of English.  Just my luck."

            "Yeah, cuz otherwise you could find him in this crowd and make him fall madly in love with you," Jenny said sarcastically.  "Come on, ice cream!!"

            There were loads of protests while everyone complained about what they wanted to do.  In the end they agreed to split up in pairs and threes to accomidate everybody.  Lucy found herself straying away from everyone.  "I'll catch up with you guys in a little while," she said to them.

            "Ooh, going to look for dream hunk?"

            She rolled her eyes.  "Yeah, that's it."

            Lucy set off on her own.  She loved being with her friends, a large group of people always appealed to her.  However, being in Italy, especially Venice, made her want to see some things on her own.  It was a very peaceful, personal place.  She didn't know why she felt that way about it, not having an ounce of Italian blood in her.  But she felt like the country belonged to her.  It was unexplainable.

            She walked along, listening to the orchestra play the familiar tune of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."  She decided to spy on people, preferably Americans trying to act Italian.

            "Che preferite?  Questo?"

            "Uh, this one, please?"

            "Questo?"

            "No, this one," Carter said trying to point to the 400mm film in the glass case.  "Four Hundred, not Two hundred."

            "Quatro?"  The elderly lady took out four rolls of the 200mm film and held it out to him.

            "Uh, no- Okay." He stopped protesting when he saw the look of annoyance on her face and paid for four rolls of film, when he'd only wanted one.

            Lucy was watching this with a smile on her face, not being able to believe it was the same guy from the day before.  "Hey, stranger," she said teasingly, trotting over to him.

            "Huh?" Carter looked up distractedly.  He'd been trying to figure out how to fit four rolls of film in his pocket.  "Oh, hi."  It was the girl from yesterday.  He hadn't realized how short she was…but she was definitely prettier than he remembered. 

            "Having some trouble?" she asked, sending him a playful look with her sparkling blue eyes. 

            "Well.  I don't speak Italian," he returned her smile.

            "I could see that.  I actually thought you were a native when I saw you yesterday."

            "Really?  I couldn't be more out of my element."

"Where are you from?" she asked him.

"Chicago.  You?"

"Boston.  I'm here with my Italian class."

"Yeah… did you get into trouble yesterday?"

"What?  Oh, that.  Naw, my teacher's cool."

He nodded and continued to smile at her. 

"Well…"

"Yeah…"

            "I should be-" They both spoke at the same time and broke, laughing.

            "Going," Lucy finished, making eyes at him.  "I should be going."

            Carter nodded.  "You have to get back to your friends?"

            She met his gaze and held.  "No."  Watched him smile.

            "Would you like- I mean, If you want-"

            "Lucy Knight," smiling, she held out a hand for him.

            He grinned, happy that she'd interrupted his blabbing.  "John Carter." He took her hand.  And watched her smile falter.  He'd felt it, too, a small tug somewhere behind his chest when they'd touched hands.

            "Would you like to…" He trailed off, not quite sure how to ask her to spend time with him.

            "Sure."

            They grinned at each other and started walking.

            "So, then, Dr. Benton is standing up there, and all the doctors are watching this screen with no slides as he starts to explain the procedure…"

Carter watched Lucy watch him through the gap in her fingers, which were pressed over her face.  "He gave the presentation with no slides?" she groaned.

"Yes.  He was mad…" Carter said, remembering. 

"So you wanted to bring this up at dinner last night?" Lucy scolded him.

"I thought it would be rather ironic.  My mother would probably pretend to faint, cause a diversion."

They were sitting at a little outdoor café nursing cappuchino's and biscotti.  Carter had told Lucy the events that brought him to Italy, which lead him to complain about his predicament, which led him to telling her he was med student.

"So you're a med student.  Tell me, do think I'll make a good one?"

"Good what?  Med student?  Your going to med school?"

"Yup.  Well, after college."

"What college do you go to now?" he asked her.

Lucy raised her eyebrows and pretended to be fascinated with her coffee. 

Carter leaned over.  "You are in college, right?"

"I will be soon," she said brightly.

"Oh, God.  How old are you?"

She titled her head and sent him a flirty look.  "How old do you think I am?"

"I mean it."

"Does age really matter?" she asked, rolling her eyes dramatically.

"Yes," he said sternly.  Then he smiled in spite of himself.  "Tell me you're at least eighteen."

She sent him a flashy smile.  "I will be soon."  Then she got up, jammed her sunglasses on her nose and pulled him to his feet.  "Let's go, Dr. Carter, there are things to see."

"How soon?" he asked as she pulled him away from the café.   

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"What do you think? 52000 lire for this glass bowl.  Too much?" Lucy asked Carter, holding

up a glass bowl the size of her palm.

"Does "soon" mean your seventeen?" he demanded.

"Huh? Are you still going on about that? Drop it, Doctor, you'll never know."

"I'm not a doctor yet.  And yes, 52000 lire is too much for that, are you insane?"

"Probably.  But it's so pretty."  She shrugged and put it down.  She had to save her money for touring the other parts of Italy in the next two weeks.  "I am very mature for my age, both in mind and spirit.  I can handle myself around flirty boys with the wrong ideas." She shot him a look from under her lashes. 

They walked out into Venice, now cooler and brighter as the sun began to set.  "Are you saying I'm a flirty boy?"

"Are you?"

He thought about it.  "Probably.  But I can't help it."

Lucy giggled and slid her arm through his, laying her head on his shoulder as they walked. 

When it became dark, they camped out as others did, and relaxed under the stars.  They listened to the orchestra, which now played sappy love songs.  They were sitting next to each other on the bottom step to some shop, while people settled down all around them, ready to camp out on the hard ground to listen to the music or to unwind.  "Yeah, so next week is the isle of Capri," Lucy was telling him, her voice now sleepy.  "I'm really excited about that."

Carter thought about his invitation to Capri and his mood dropped a little.  He would have to deal with all that when he got back to the hotel tonight.

"Hey, ya still there?"

He glanced at Lucy who'd turned her head to look at him, her big eyes amused.

He felt that tug again, and found himself grinning.  "Still here."

She let her head fall on his shoulder.  "Thought you wanted to be somewhere else for a minute."

"Now that'd be stupid."

"Yes, it would." She lifted her head to meet his gaze and instead felt herself being hypnotized by his eyes. 

They kissed then, long and slow.  Carter lost every thought, every sour feeling inside of him and instead found something sweet and exquisite.  They lingered over the kiss. 

The bells chimed.  Lucy reluctantly shifted to glance up at the clock on top of the Cathedral.  And she felt her heart sink to her knees.  "Oh, my God, it's midnight."

"Huh?  What- midnight?!"

"Uh-huh!  We were supposed to meet at ten-thirty to check in and tell if we were staying late.  This is bad."

"Yeah," he said getting up quickly and walking with her away from the crowded area.  He thought of Angelina standing outside the hotel alone, they're plan ruined. 

"There's my class, oh, Miss Starza looks pissed.  John-"

"I know.  It's okay.  How about tomorrow?"

"I can't!  Tomorrow I leave for Capri."

"What?" He was shocked.  Was this the last time he'd ever see her?

"We leave on a bus for Capri at like, 5 am."

He thought of that invitation to Capri.  "How long will you be there?"

"What?"

"How long will you be in Capri?  I might be able to get there."

"Really?  You would do that-"

"Miss Knight!" 

They both glanced at the voice, which was obviously her Italian teacher.

"I have to go," she said in a rush.  "Saturday.  I'll be there till Saturday."

"What hotel?"

She looked blank.  "I don't remember, it's on my itinerary- in my suitcase!  Oh, Gosh, let me think-"

"Lucy!! The boat is waiting!"

 I have to go." She looked at Carter and grinned.  "Try to find me, I guess."

He couldn't help breaking into a smile at her bright, lively face. "Thanks for a great day."  He kissed her again and felt his heartbeat quicken.  Her eyes sparkled into his as they pulled away.  Carter's heart felt light and feathery in his chest as he watched her start to run backwards. 

"I'll see you," she yelled out.  "If not in Capri, then some other time!!"

"When you turn eighteen!" he yelled back with a smirk.

"I am eighteen!!" she shouted and laughed at the astounded look on his face.  Then she blew him a kiss and dissapearred in the crowd.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Does Carter go chasing Lucy all over Italy?  Or will the next time they see each other be in Cook County General Hospital five years later?  You decide for yourself!  And let me know what you come up with! ;) Casccara@yahoo.com

Other fanfic by Casca at:

Between the Lines - A Fanfic Archive

Feedback is welcome!

Casccara@yahoo.com