Just Another

Author: Hanspam

Rating: PG

Summary: A standalone, not related to the end of series 8 (ie: Lockdown) It's definitely set before Secrets and Lies, but I'm not quite sure exactly when.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Author's Note: I haven't written anything ER style for a while, and I definitely haven't since a certain person convinced me that becoming a Carby would greatly enhance my quality of life. So, where's the husband and the money then, Alex?? :)

******

"2 litres of saline for Curtain 3!"

"Phone call for Dr. Weaver..."

"Is there a Mr. Hernandez here?"

It's a typical Friday night at the ER. Luckily, the gods of scheduling shifts are looking down at me (is that Kerry? I never knew she liked me) and I've just finished my shift.

Twelve hours, that seemed as though they would never end.

I don't even want to count the amount of people I've seen today, because in my current mood it would only make me sad. All the people who have passed through my life, who I know barely anything about. They have lives, and I know nothing about them.

Sure, I know that Molly Wilson likes to rollerskate, and that's how she ended up in my care at 12:30 this afternoon with three chipped teeth and a broken wrist.

But what made her start to rollerskate?

Where was her father when they brought her into County, screaming for her mommy and daddy? Sure, Mrs Wilson turned up almost as soon as her daughter did. But where was Mr Wilson? Was he away on business, was he unable to be reached at work, or were Molly's parents divorced?

Suddenly, I realise I have been standing, staring into the caverns of my locker, for far too long. Looking at my watch, I realise that five minutes of my precious non-work time have already been eaten by my wonderings of what could never be.

What if I knew every single person in the world?

******

I walk along the streets of Chicago in my coat, hat and scarf. Chicago winters are never done by half, oh no. This morning I woke up to find it had snowed for the first time in this New Year, and everything was coated in what looked like icing sugar, except colder and more likely to melt in mild weather.

Although I hate to do it, I light up a cigarette as I navigate the icy paths. Smoking while walking, for some bizarre reason I've never quite figured out, makes me feel as though I'm letting my nicotine addiction shine through, that people will judge me and say, "Look, there goes the nurse. The smoker."

Ridiculous, I know.

The comforting feeling of the cigarette in my hand helps me to think. I decide to take the long way home, despite the below-zero temperature. I don't particularly want to hear another domestic fight when I return home. If I can put it off, I will, even if it means freezing my butt off.

Finally, as my thoughts range from the sublime to the ridiculous, I realise my sudden pathological need to know something about every person in the world.

If I could know every person that walks and breathes on this earth, then it stands to reason that I would finally know something concrete about Carter.

John Carter the third. Is that the third, as in a hereditary name, or the third name the Carter I know has held, because he can't make up his mind about anything?

He told me to break up with Luka because he couldn't be with someone who was with someone else. I did. Then he turns around to say that I still love Luka, and he can't be with me.

Forgive me if I'm overlooking a vital link, but I don't get it. I have never claimed to understand men, but this really takes the biscuit.

And now, to make matters worse, he decides to start dating Dr. Lewis, who just swans back into town after god knows how long away, and takes the man I...

The man I care about.

I still love Luka, that much is true. But I'm not in love with him anymore, if I ever have been. We're friends, nothing more.

And besides, he has Nicole to comfort him. Who exactly do I have?

If Luka has Nicole, and Carter has Susan, then where does that leave me? I thought I was supposed to be the centre of this love triangle, but now I've dropped out of the equilateral altogether.

Then again, I was never quite clear on how this ended up becoming an issue in the first place. Two guys who both claim to be interested in me, Abigail Lockhart?

I am so sure.

******

It dawns on me an hour later that this is the fifth time I've walked down the same street, and lingering diners are starting to look at me strangely. I guess they either think I'm crazy, or that I've been stood up.

In a way, they're both right.

There's an AA meeting in an hour, and it wouldn't take me 60 minutes to walk there. Even though it would be warm, with coffee and maybe a cute guy to take my mind off problems that have occupied it all day, it's not the right time. I have a sudden urge to sit in front of my tiny television and watch mindless programming until I fall asleep. Survivor would probably be on at this time of night...

******

They've started again.

I should have known the half an hour of peace from the next apartment was too good to last.

Through the too-thin walls, I can hear insults being passed between them like trading cards.

"I can't believe that you left the front door open! Anyone could have walked right in and stolen everything we own!"

"You were only gone for five minutes to get fried chicken. I had to leave the door open in case you locked yourself out. How many times have you done that in the last month alone?"

And so on, and so on.

It's almost more interesting than the current viewing choice. An 'America's Scariest Car Chases!' special, where presumably they're even scarier, Temptation Island, where even I draw the line, and more of the same.

The easiest thing to do is switch off the television and try to sleep. I have to be back at work in nine hours, and I'm always cranky when I don't get at least seven hours.

The television blinks into subdued darkness at the press of a button, and I slowly stand up from the sofa. Although I haven't sat down for more than an hour, my bones creak as I move, and it belatedly reaches my mind that I'm seriously exhausted. Not to mention the cold, which seems to have sunk into my very bones and formed icicles within my bone marrow.

I change into pj's, and for good measure, pull on an old sweater on top. Nothing can make my inner temperature climb more than stifling layers of clothing, although it's normally more effective when the apartment block's heating is running on more than half power.

A quick brush of the teeth and pouring of a glass of water later, and I'm standing by my bed, waiting to jump in and cover the duvets around me.

So I do.

******

Two hours later, I'm still awake, staring at the ceiling in my bedroom as though it's the most interesting thing I have come across in my entire life.

The exhaustion I felt before hasn't gone away, though luckily Joyce and Brandon have quietened down. I guess even wife-abusers have to sleep eventually.

My mind refuses to let me sleep.

Do I hold a dormant disease inside of me?

Will it wake up unexpectedly, most likely when I'm at work, and show people that I'm no different despite my assurances, I really am as crazy as my mother?

Did I know what I was talking about when I said earlier that I'm not in love with Luka? He could provide for me, could build me a life that I've been secretly hoping for all my life, the type that I could never hold with Richard.

But is he the husband I envisage in this dream?

Carter could provide for me just as well as Luka, even more so if you took into consideration the sheer amount of money the guy must have.

But according to what I've heard, Carter's dated more than his fair share of co-workers during his time at County. And Luka has, as far as I know anyway, only had two serious relationships, with Danjela, and with me.

Both are attractive, good doctors with excellent prospects....

As this comparing finally makes my mind join my body in weariness, a thought glides across my mind like a fish swimming through the deep seas.

It doesn't really matter which one I choose, which one would be better for me, anyway.

Because at the moment, it doesn't look as though either of them need me anymore.

And that thought really makes me want a drink....

Just another day in my world. ******

A/N: Although I said this was a standalone, I'm not averse to writing a companion piece if people want. Let me know please, and R&R!