Alone

Chapter 1

The bar was crowded, more crowded than usual for a Tuesday evening. College students relaxing after a long day of classes, professionals unwinding after a stressful day of work, couples out celebrating anniversaries, friends celebrating birthdays or just a fun night out. The place was lively, but in the midst of all the gaiety, Crockett felt as alone as he ever had.

Almost.

There was one other time he felt completely alone, a time that was pushed deep down into the recesses of his mind, a time that he just wouldn't allow himself to go to. Performing that risky surgery on the two kids from the bus, worrying that no matter what he did, one or both of them wouldn't survive, had almost brought him there. Now, sitting in the bar, despondently downing two glasses of bourbon, he could feel himself teetering on the brink of that time, and he just couldn't face it. Not now.

Crockett tossed some money down on the bar and walked to his car, zipping his jacket against the cold Chicago wind. He drove the short distance to his apartment and when he was settled inside for the night, he poured himself another glass of bourbon. Sitting at the kitchen table, he set the glass down and pulled out his cell phone, putting it on the table next to the glass. Staring at a space in between the two, Crockett finally picked up the phone and scrolled through the contacts, stopping at a familiar name that made his chest tighten slightly. Sighing, he tapped the name and listened to it ring. On the fifth ring, there was a groggy answer.

"Hello?"

The sound of the voice brought a lump to Crockett's throat, and he swallowed.

"Hello Rachel." There was a beat of silence on the other end.

"Crockett." The coolness in his ex-wife's tone nearly made him hang up, but he took a deep breath and forged ahead.

"So, how've you-"

"Crockett, are you kidding me right now?" The question caught him off guard, and he blinked.

"What?"

"I haven't heard from you in a year, and now you call me at 11:30 at night? You just run away and expect to pick back up like nothing ever happened?"

"I didn't run away," Crockett said softly, closing his eyes as he rubbed his forehead wearily. "We got divorced."

"And I still needed you, needed your support," Rachel countered. "But I guess that never mattered to you." Crockett shook his head, feeling the heat rising in his face.

"You needed my support? After what you said, after you accused me of-" he broke off, trying to control his breathing. "No, I don't want to do this, I don't want to argue. I just-I had a hard day, tough case, and it reminded me...and I got to wondering how you were...I don't know what I was thinking, I mean, after all, it was my fault, right?" Bitterness dripped from his words, more than he intended, and he quickly disconnected the call. Without another thought, he downed the glass of bourbon, then headed to the kitchen to finish off the rest of the bottle.