Hello! I wrote this fic a long time ago, then in typical me fashion…forgot all about it. Lol. It's based on the events right after Carter left at the end of season 11.
Disclaimer – I don't own them…blah di blah di blah...
"It says that I'm scared. And that I know I have a lot to learn and I hope I learn it quickly. And that I pray to God that I don't kill anybody. And it says that, um, if I'm good as this and I can stick it out and become an Attending, well that'll be all I ever need."
Carter's voice cracked as he finished reading his own letter. Tears formed in his eyes, but he wouldn't let them fall. He looked up at the three residents seated in front of him, his eyes scanned them, knowing he would miss them all. Neela, mind like a textbook, a brilliant student and becoming an excellent doctor. If only she could occasionally let her heart rule, rather than her head.
Ray, a very likeable guy, his priorities were a bit askew, but he had well and truly proved himself that evening.
Finally, his eyes locked onto Abby. His best friend, his ex, his sponsor, his student, his teacher. Like Carter, she was welling up, her eyes gradually turning redder. They had gone through so much, before they had even gotten together. They were just like a couple, before they'd even kissed. Then while they were together, the world had thrown so much at them, they couldn't get through it. He had run away from everything, run to Africa where things had seemed so much simpler. She had run away too; not physically, but she had abandoned her feeling, so that she couldn't be hurt.
When he arrived back in Chicago, he had so much more than he'd left with, a relationship, a child on the way, and new hope. But things were never the same with Abby. They'd both changed, something neither would do while they were together. She was happy, happier than he'd seen her in a long time. Then just as Abby was getting her life in check, his world crumbled. The baby had died, Kem had gone, and all of a sudden Abby was there, reassuring him, comforting him, helping him get over the brick wall he had just run headlong into. Knowing she would always be there for him as his friend got him through. And he loved her for that, not that they would ever be a couple again, he just loved her for being her.
And now he had new hope back in his life again and he just couldn't let that slip away, even if it meant leaving behind the people he loved and the memories he cherished. His memories of Benton, Doug, Lucy, Susan, Abby, Luka, Mark…They all laid within the walls of the hospital he would soon be leaving behind. He handed Abby his letter, knowing she would make every intern write one, just as Mark had made Carter write his.
Finally, still choking back the tears, not knowing what to say, he left with "I got a plane to catch"
Abby watched Carter walk out the door and down the hallway and finally the tears that were gathered in her eyes fell silently down her cheeks.
'I got a plane to catch'? Was she really going to let that be Carter's farewell words to her? She looked to Neela, who seemed to be able to understand what she was thinking.
"Go after him" She ordered "Go on, go say goodbye properly, Ray and I will finish your charts."
Ray nodded. "Thanks" Abby replied, "I owe you one!" And she rushed out the room.
She spotted Carter turning the corner as she went out into the ambulance bay.
"Carter!" she shouted as she caught up with him. He spun around.
"Abby? What's the matter?"
"Three times now you've left to go to Africa, and none of them we've said goodbye properly. It's a dangerous country John, I don't know if I'll see you again. Have you got time for a coffee? One last chat, before you go?"
"Yes of course I've got time."
They sat down in Ike's with their coffees and they both just smiled. "This is just like old times" Carter said.
"Yeah, except this time you're not coming back." There was silence between them. Abby stared into her coffee, and then finally looked him in the face.
"I'm really going to miss you Carter."
"I'll miss you too. And I am going to come back."
"You can't promise that. You told me once that you weren't going anywhere, and then you buggered off to Africa. I'm not blaming you" she said quickly before he could argue, "I know I did some terrible, extremely insensitive things. I know we drove each other crazy, and I know it was mostly my fault that sent you to Africa in the first place. Well, mine and Eric's."
"I don't blame you anymore. I did, but not anymore. What's done is done Abby. We can't change the past we can't go back and do things over, all we can do is move forwards."
"Like you're doing now."
He nodded, "And like you've been doing for the past year. Going back to med school, becoming a resident. You've moved on Abby, and I'm so proud of you."
"Yes. I don't think you'd have done any of that had we stayed together."
"No, I guess not. You know, I'm proud of you too. You've had so much crap over the last few years. Sobreiki, rehab, me, my family, your Grandmother, the baby…And now you're ready to make a completely fresh start for the woman you love. I really admire that."
"I should be thanking you after everything you've done for me." She paused, "Did you know you saved my life?" He frowned and shook his head.
"You did. The day you came back from your scuba diving trip after Eric went missing. I was perfectly willing to drink myself into a coma that day, and I would have, if you hadn't been standing in my kitchen." He stared at her, shocked.
"I never realised it was that bad."
"Yeah, well as soon as I saw you I realised I couldn't do it, but that's not my point."
"No, the point is, my life is full of 'what ifs?' What if I had killed myself that night? What if I had never married Richard? What if my mother had caught me after chasing me with the knife? What if I hadn't gone back…"
"Hang on, back up a bit." He interrupted. "Maggie chased you with a knife?"
"Yeah, when I told her I'd been to visit my father once. She flipped out. I had to lock myself in the closet."
"How old were you?"
"Ten, it was thanksgiving."
"Wow, how come you never told me this?"
"It never seemed that important."
"I think I'm beginning to understand you and your family even more now. No wonder you were so scared for your brother."
"Yeah, well it's in the past now. But anyway, my point is, you're following your 'what ifs' up by going to be with Kem, and I think that's brilliant. Even if it does mean you have to move to Africa."
"I will come back. I can't leave you and Susan and Luka and County behind forever. That would kill me. This place has been my life. I nearly died here, I met you here, and my son was born here. I could never abandon all that. These last few years have been the greatest, and the worst years I've ever had. The first few months we were together, they were the best in my life."
"Mine too. I had so much fun then. We just seemed to work together then, until everything else got in the way. I'll never forget that time."
"Do you think we'd still be together now, if Gamma hadn't died and Eric hadn't got sick?" He asked.
"I honestly don't know. But that doesn't matter anymore. You're going to be with Kem, I've just become a Resident. Things are working out for both of us. I wouldn't have gone back to med school if it wasn't for that letter you sent me."
"I'm really sorry about that. I know it was cowardly, but I don't think I could have said it to your face." He said, looking down into his coffee.
"Not a problem. I suppose you did me a favour, gave me a kick in the right direction."
"I've missed this." Carter suddenly announced.
"Us, talking, drinking coffee, we used to do this all the time. It's like; we stopped being proper friends after I came back from Africa. We haven't had a proper conversation in a really long time."
"I know. I've missed this too. I've sat here with coffee and a friend loads of times. Neela, Susan, Jake. But it never feels the same as us. You know more about me than anyone else in the entire world. Even my mother."
"I don't want our friendship to end Abby."
"You know you can call me in Africa. As soon as I get there I'll send you the number. You can call me for anything, how you get on in your residency, how Maggie and Eric are doing, anything."
"Thanks, you do the same."
"I will" He smiled.
They sat in silence for a while, sipping their coffees. Eventually Carter blurted out.
"I will always love you Abby. Nothing will ever change that."
She was shocked, speechless. She had never known Carter to come out with his feelings that bluntly before. She couldn't think of anything to say back that wouldn't open up a huge can of worms, but then she realised she'd done that already that night, this couldn't hurt.
"I love you too Carter. I've always got a special place for you, you know that."
"I do now." They smiled warmly at each other, both so relived that they could say things like that and still be just as comfortable around each other.
"I really have to go now Abby, I'm really sorry."
"That's ok; I have to get back to my shift anyway."
They finished off their coffees and once they were standing outside, Carter turned to face Abby.
"Luka said something earlier that i thinkis perfect for us."
"Something his father used to say. 'We only part, to meet again'. I think that is so true."
She nodded "Definitely, well then…goodbye for now Carter."
"You too." He kissed the top of her head, and then turned to walk away.
Abby watched him walk a couple of steps before she found herself saying. "John, wait."
He turned and she walked towards him, looked into his eyes, then slowly put her arms around him, she buried her face into his chest as she felt his arms encircle her into their hugs that she had so desperately missed. Carter seemed to have a way, she found, to make everything seem to go away, just by pulling her into a hug. They stayed that way for what seemed like forever. Eventually they pulled away; Abby gave him a quick kiss and whispered "Goodbye", then turned and walked away before Carter could see the tears streaming down her face.
Back in the hospital, after filling Neela in on what had happened, Ray approached them, a piece of paper in his hand.
"What's that?" Abby asked.
"Ah, so now you have more writing to do." She said, handing them both pads of paper. She was met with disbelieving looks from either side.
"What?" she asked, "It's good enough for Carter."
And there we have it, my version of the Carby goodbye.
I hope that those of you that made it to the end enjoyed reading it. If you did and so feel inclined to tell me, just leave me a lil review…Thanks!