Hi-diddly-ho there! Well, this is the first story I've written in over five years...and I feel really weird posting this, 'cause I feel like it's not very good. I wanna proofread and add more stuff to it, but I really hope some of you like it at least!

"Be Still My Heart" and "All In The Family" are tied for my favorite episodes of ER, and I came up with the idea over two years ago; but then, I got writer's block. Now, I'm back writing again! But, like I said, I'm rusty...so please be kind.

Oh, another thing: this particular character is based on me, I guess (?)...and for more info, see my profile page.

Alright, let me know what you think! PM me or leave a review by clickin' on that blue rectangle down there (which, by the way, I don't like as much as the old one)! I'd really love to hear from you!

Love, Robin

-Part 1-

"Her Cross to Bear"

When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him.

~ Euripides ~

~ February 15, 2000; 1:50 a.m. ~

She blames herself.

She should've seen this coming a mile away.

But she was busy. So was he.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, she's acutely aware of everything taking place downstairs—her second home.

The one time she lets her guard down...

...this happens.

Robin Shepherd stands behind the glass windows of the operating suite where Anspaugh and Benton work feverishly to repair the damage inflicted on Dr. John Carter. With one arm wrapped protectively around her stomach—as if preventing herself from shattering into a million pieces—and her other hand covering her mouth, she waits. Waits for something. Anything. Nervously, she shifts her weight from one foot to the other as she taps her fingers on her lips—breathing heavily and letting exhausted, desperate sighs of surrender escape her.

Step by agonizing step, she remembers, again, the discovery of her co-workers... Her friends.

She stood at the nurses' station...only ten feet away...waiting on hold for someone to tell her when Psych would be down for the consult with Paul Sobriki. She was certain she had just seen DeRadd walking down the hallway, but she didn't want to hang up unless she was absolutely sure it was him. Having heard enough of the irritating, wordless muzak playing through the receiver, she hung up with a hushed expletive whispered under her breath as she began bobbing her head to a song she heard earlier that had come from the admit desk for the ER's annual Valentine's Day party. It was one of her favorite songs: "Battleflag" by the Lo-Fidelity Allstars.

Nearby, she heard Kerry and Jing-Mei talking about some sort of "bare butt booty oil," which made her laugh as she mouthed the words to the song playing and updated a chart. She had never really concerned herself with the monotonous flow of charts that needed to be dealt with. She never seemed to mind the endless paperwork...she actually enjoyed it.

Something in the air had shifted.

Something was wrong.

Kerry's voice came out in an uncharacteristic yelp, and Robin saw the door to Curtain 3 closing. She dropped her pen and left her charts as she followed suit. The bloody footprint just outside the door made her burst into a run.

"Kerry?" she asked, flinging the door open. Dark, crimson puddles and streaks covered the black and white tiled floor. But she couldn't be sure. There were no lights on. The blinds were all closed. "What the hell...?"

"It's Carter and Lucy! Looks like they've been stabbed," Kerry informed with a desperate urgence—cracking and an octave higher than normal.

"What?" she said, forcing her question out as she rushed over to Kerry.

"Lucy's on the other side of the bed, go check on her!"

Her head snapped over to where Kerry had just indicated, and she almost stumbled as she shot over to Lucy's crumpled form. She could immediately hear her breathing, checked her pulse, and talked to her young friend in a gentler tone. "Lucy? Lucy, sweetie, can you hear me?" Lucy's eyes twitched underneath their lids, but other than that, there was nothing. "Lucy, you hang in there," she said as she started to move to stand again. "Hang on, sweetie, we're gonna help you and John, okay?" Her words were met, this time, by Lucy's fingers slowly moving up and down...and nothing more.

But this one silent gesture sent a wave of relief, however slight, coursing through her as she maneuvered back to Carter and Kerry. "How's he doin'?"

"Not so good at the moment," she answered—her statement tinged with anger and annoyance...but honest nonetheless. "I need you to get two backboards, C-collars—"

"I know, Kerry," Robin told her as she stood and headed toward the door, in an effort to keep her calm. "Get the trauma rooms ready, call Surgery and the blood bank for O-neg, and call the police. I'm on it."

"Go!" came Kerry's familiar authoritative voice.

She paused, yanking the door open by the handle and looking back at the nightmarish scene in front of her. "Hang on, you guys!" she shouted back into the room and began to sprint down the hall toward admit. "Hang on..."

Robin shudders with a sob that she keeps silent in her heart and runs a hand through her brunette hair in frustration, watching Shirley hang up the OR phone and talk to Dr. Benton. Something's happening. What? She doesn't know. Everything being said is muffled through the barriers standing in front of her. Even though his face is mostly covered by a surgical mask and cap, Peter's eyes hold the key to everything happening inside of him. Robin's adrenaline pumps uncontrollably as she watches him step away from Carter and toward the suite doors.

"What's wrong?" she asks, unlocking the vice grip she's been holding herself in for the past 45 minutes and stepping up to the visibly irate doctor.

"I've been called into another surgery," he says through clenched jaws, ripping off his mask and blood-soaked gloves, slamming them into a bio-hazard bag, and turning on his heel.

"Wh-wai—" she stammers, hesitant to leave her quiet vigil for Carter but catching up to him anyway. "You just came back a few minutes ago," she says, but gets nothing from Benton-just more silent anger. "What about John? Is he gonna be alright?"

Now in his full-on "angry swagger," as Robin likes to refer to it, Peter rounds the corner and stalks down the hallway. "He seems stable right now. Go check on Lucy, make sure she's alright. They just got to CT."

Slowing down near the elevators, she asks, "Are you sure, Pet—?"

"Lucy, Robin!" he states loudly, glancing over his shoulder and not slowing his stride.

She stands alone in the middle of the hall. Unsure of what to do, she turns toward the OR where Carter lays with his life hanging in the balance. She closes her eyes, saying a silent prayer and sending it to him and the rest of the staff in the room; and then, she takes off down the hall to the stairwell—knowing it will take too much time to wait on the elevator, even at this time of night.

She has to get to Elizabeth and Robert so they can tell her that everything's going smoothly.

She has to get to Lucy. She needs to get to Lucy. She hasn't seen her in nearly an hour and needs to let her know that she hasn't abandoned her. She's been running back and forth between John and Lucy all night, in some inadvertent way trying to tell them that she's sorry. That she should've done something different. That she should've been more attentive and listened. That she should've kept her guard up. That she should've been there.

She should've seen this coming.

She should've prevented this.

She should've taken the time.

And now...

...she is responsible for this...

...for everything.

For this is her cross to bear.

The crisis of our lives becomes a private nightmare.

~ Unknown ~

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That one. Right down there. It's blue. It's not as cool as the old one. See it?