Into The Darkness

Author: Jadeblueafterglow17

Note: Thanks for your patience it's been a rough few weeks. I have another ER story in the works...including Part II of this. But, Falling Skies conclusion and Star Trek new story must come first. Enjoy...and please send story ideas and suggestions my way.

Oh yeah...Review...

Chapter 11- Finding the Light

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Peter Benton donned a gown and mask as he entered the ICU cubicle containing his patient. After Carter had been returned to his room he'd immediately been scheduled for his second surgery to repair the significant damage to his arm. Since Carter was already deeply unconscious they could only safely complete the operation with a local anesthetic.

Carter awakened 24 hours after surgery but had been fighting pneumonia and other broad nosocomial infections over the last two days. His condition continued to worsen as he fought with bouts of consciousness. A security guard had been placed at his ICU door to keep out Jack Carter at his grandmother's insistence. Three days ago he'd managed to get an ambulance transfer to attempt to move Carter from the ICU while Benton was taking a much needed break at home. When the Emergency call came in from Mark Green and Millicent Carter, they'd already had Carter strapped to a gurney, his fresh wounds exposed to the hospital as they tried to transport him to the roof to escape via helicopter.

Peter Benton stared down at his still swollen and bruised knuckles as they ached with the memory of the fast punches landing on Jack Carter's face.

(3 days ago)

"What in the hell do you think you're doing?"

"I'm taking my son to a better hospital. Presbyterian Hospital in New York is the best for him, and I have a team of specialists ready to work on him as soon as he arrived" Jack Carter dug his hands into his dark grey trench coat as he stared down Peter Benton.

"He is too weak to make that trip."

"I would not put him in danger, I have a doctor and all the necessary materials to keep him comfortable."

"I don't think you are understanding me." he got up in his face and stopped the gurney. The nurse currently bagging Carter was suddenly tense as she was pumping so fast she was nearly hyperventilating him as she watched.

"I am his doctor. Mrs. Carter did not sign off on his transfer, and he's not going anywhere."

"Return Dr. Carter to his room immediately and get him back on the vent."

Jack Carter grinned at him as he smiled ferrally. Benton stood stoically and wasn't completely shocked to find a fist come flying at his face. His head flew to the side, as days of inadequate sleep had finally caught up with him and dulled his reflex responses.

A growl came to Peter's lips as he smiled and thoughts of his career flashed through his mind.

"Well... being a Wal-Mart greeter is not so bad." he thought.

He launched a ferocious punch at Jack carter's face and like a robot the punches continued. He'd landed three punches before the elder Carter made it to the linoleum tiled floor. Within seconds restraining arms were at his back on both sides. He slung them away as one last punch landed connected with his target's jaw and Jack Carter eyes fell closed. His fist was grabbed in mid-air .

"Dammit, Peter stop it!." Peters resolve was broken by the voice of Dr, Morgenstern as he held fiercely to his hand. He noticed his other arm was forcibly held by Mark Green. He snatched both of his appendages back and stormed off in the direction of the ICU.

"I wanna file assault charges against that bastard." he shouted.

Mark smiled. "Nothing like taking one for the team." he whispered to himself.

Benton placed the powered latex gloves on his hands closed the isolation door, and pulled up a stool with sterile coverings over up to Carter's bed. He elevated Carter's head above his heart so he was sitting up in the bed.

Peter checked every port and tube, and wire covering his patient. He looked at the plate and pins holding his arm together and was satisfied with the full cast

Without knowing why...he began talking out loud to his patient.

"You know, your parents have been here. After meeting them I can understand why you feel like you're an orphan. I see where you get your stubborn streak from." He adjusted the central line and made notes in the chart.

"Your mother, she seems kind of lost Carter. I know you told me that you had a brother and she wasn't the same after he died, but surely she knows that she has another son who needs that kind of devotion too. I don't know. I guess I can't judge. I don't have any kids of my own." he continued as he removed the blood tinged bandages and carefully replaced them on pale white skin. He could feel the heat radiating off of Carter's feverish skin and adjusted the setting of the cooling mat that he lay on.

"Your father. Man, your father is... " He laughed out loud. "Your old man is crazy. Well I guess I shouldn't say that too loud. He's suing the hospital for me keeping you here, but thank God your grandmother got me an attorney. She refuses to give him an inch."

Benton reduced the flow on the respirator forcing Carter to work a little harder to trigger the vent and strengthen his lungs. He hoped to get his fever down in the next 24 hours.

"Carter, for all their eccentricities, I think deep down they really do love you, they just are so wrapped up in their own selves to express. it. Maybe the loss of a child can do that to you, maybe coming this close to losing you will turn them around. Your mother and grandmother are here around the clock. Your mother seems scared to death of sickness, she doesn't want to come in, but she watches you. She stands at the window and watches you sleep for hours Carter."

Noticing that the Jackson Pratt was no longer collecting fluid, he wrote a DC order in Carter's chart and got the necessary equipment to remove the drain himself. He removed the sterile tape and began to tug at the tubing that went deep into his abdomen draining the fluid off his stomach and intestines. The firm tugging was necessary to dislodge the tube without pulling any interior sutures or stitching.

" I hope I made the right decision man. I hope I did what you would want me to do. You're a good man Carter, way more than I ever gave you credit for. I couldn't live with myself if you... " he felt a lump in his throat and a prickly feeling at his eyes as he reached up and gently squeezed Carter's hand. He would get his friend through this.

***** Friend**** he contemplated again. A word he never used generously.

He pulled the remaining tube completely out, quickly suturing the hole there and placing a sterile dressing over it. He sat back down and stared warily at Carter's face. He was astonished to see a pair of brown eyes staring at him.

The eyes were tired but were clearly focused on his face. Benton grabbed his pen light out of his pocket and started to shine them at Carter's glassy eyes. He voluntarily closed his eyes and groaned.

"Ok. Ok...the light is off. Can you follow my finger?" He held his index finger and Carter's eyes slowly began tracking the finger in every direction it moved.

Peter sighed and a grin widened on his face.

"Welcome back man." A slow blink was his only reply a shaky hand began to reach upwards toward his mouth as he felt the air being pushed into his chest at a regular interval.

Benton quickly took his hand and placed it back at his side.

"I'll see about taking out the vent and replacing it with oxygen. But I need to get a portable chest first. You've been battling pneumonia and I don't want any more setbacks. He slid his mask down carefully. Are you in pain Carter?"

Carter slowly shook his head in the negative but Benton could tell from the strain on his face that he was lying.

"You need your rest, you've been to hell and back." Carter's eyes widened at that statement.

"Yes. Hell...you have no idea the fun you've missed. I'll have to enlighten you. Me and your dear old dad are bosom buddies now. In fact he's suing me for assault."

Carter rolled his eyes and then closed them staring at the wall."

"Don't worry, your grandmother put him in his place. She's a force to be reckoned with. How you managed to defy her and become a doctor is beyond me." Carter turned to face him." But I'm glad you did. It's good to have you back ." He patted his leg as he began to walk away. He stood in the doorway writing notes in Carter's chart removing his sterile gloves and mask.

"Rest for a while. I'm going to give you something for pain and while you are out we'll ge the vent out, and I'll let everybody know you're... awake." He glanced in time to see that Carter had once again closed his eyes and was breathing and triggering the vent as a conscious person. He smiled and exited the room heading to the waiting room.

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Three days later

Carter sat up in his bed as his mother Eleanor fed him spoonfuls of homemade broth. He'd flat-out refused to eat the hospital food, and had only relented when his grandmother had whipped up a soothing batch of broth just for him. Hints of chicken wafted into his nostrils as his nasal cannula fogged up from the steam. His bruised and battered body still too weak to manage this menial task he concentrated on listening as his grandmother read cards from his friends and coworkers.

His mother wiped a bit of broth from his smooth jaw. He was thankful that Dr. Del Amico had volunteered to shave his face, the days of hair growth on his face was beginning to itch and was driving him mad trying to scratch it with his broken limb. He would be glad when he could take care of himself. The fracture to his skull and damage to his eye was gradually getting better but he was still plagued with headaches and eye pain.

His mother led the spoon to his mouth again.

"No." he whispered. She placed the bowl down.

" John, you need to eat...you're so thin sweetheart." He smiled and patted her arm with his IV covered hand.

He tossed his head and eyes in the direction of the bowl. "Not exactly loaded with carbs mom." She picked up his bruised hand and kissed it. Carter laid his head back on the stark white pillow as heavy lids fell over chocolate-brown eyes.

The door to his room swooshed open as footfalls approached the bed. The sound of mumbling voices brought him back to awareness as he felt a warm kiss on his forehead. He opened his eyes as his mother and grandmother left the room and found himself face to face with Dr. Peter Benton.

"Carter, how are you feeling?"

"Not bad I suppose. I still don't remember what happened to me."

"It's not really important. We are going to get you up and out of that bed later today and get you out of the ICU-stepdown. You're taking up valuable space." Carter smiled.

"I'm sure there's a closet somewhere you can stuff me in to."

Benton shook his head. "Carter, this was too close for comfort. If I hadn't been going to that dinner, if I'd taken a different road..."

"Thank you."

"What?"

Thank you. " Carter said again staring up at his mentor. "We could what if ourselves into oblivion. If anyone in the world had to find me, I'm glad it was you. You wouldn't let me...I ..." Carter stumbled for words as he felt the fear of his near death experience suddenly grip him. His face grew pale and he stared into space.

"Hey I invested a lot of time and energy into you...there was no way in hell you were gonna get away that easily. You'll make a brilliant doctor, and an amazing surgeon one day...can't let an accident get in the way of that." Benton said turning away from him, writing notes in his chart. Carter was so emotional sometimes he couldn't bear to look at him for fear his own fa├žade would crumble.

"You're welcome." he whispered. " There's someone who'd like to see you do you feel up to talking to her for a few minutes?"

"Do I know her...Who is it?"

Dr. Benton opened the door and let in the woman. She took one look at Carter and burst into tears as she immediately fell into a mantra of "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry she protested falling to her knees at his bedside. Carter stared at Benton with a confused look on his face as if to ask "What's wrong with her.

"She was driving the car that struck you, she was the person who told us where you were, if it wasn't for her we might not have been able to save you in time."

The woman stood up, wiping her tear soaked hands on her blue jeans and smiled a watery smile at Carter. Exhaustion still flittered across his face as he tried desperately to remember what happened.

"I'm so sorry all this happened." she cried.

"It's okay...It was an accident."

"I'll pay all the bills and if you want to press charges, I'm fine with that too...I just wanted to make sure you were okay, I was so worried they said you were unconscious for so long, and then you got sick...God I'm so sorry...I'

"Miss...what's your name."

"Oh...here I am blubbering on and ...it's Samantha...Samantha Sobriki."

"Mrs. Sobriki, I don't intend to press any charges and everything else we can work out with insurance...please don't worry." he said tiredly as a yawn crept from his throat.

Dr. Benton sensing his exhaustion tapped Mrs. Sobriki on the shoulder and lead her from the room. He then stepped back in to check on Carter before writing orders to D/C the IV lines for a chest tube and for him to be moved to a private suite.

"She's a little wired" he whispered. Benton laughed.

"You could say that. She thought she killed someone...I think you would be too."

"Next time warn me. I'm completely naked under here, its bad enough half the hospital has stopped by here. I'll be sure to stay off that road in the future, don't want to tempt fate. Sobriki." he sighed. "That's a strange name ...sure I won't forget that." his voice trailed off as his lips parted and he was once again glanced at him. There was twelve-year-old Carter again, his hair partially covering bandaged bruises on his forehead, looking quite young.

"I know I won't forget this... Sweet dreams Carter." Benton whispered.

The End ******************************************************************************************************************************* Could be A Part II: Jack Carter assault lawsuit, Carter's recovery, a catastrophic misread by Dr. Benton which causes a life threatening setback in his recovery...a chance meeting with Paul Sobriki. how interested are you?
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