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PLAYING BY HEART
email: drdebchen@hotmail.com

She sat on her bed,contemplating her dresses.”But Mummy” she started to complain.

“Listen, child, if you must grab his attenion, talk to him.From what you told me, he’s a good friend.No need to do something stupid”

Jing Mei started to laugh. “You know,it’s been so long” she sighed.

“You know better.Why do you question me?” the old woman laughed along with her daughter. “So they didn’t tell you.Go knock his socks off.”

She sighed,”I love you Mummy”. Jing Mei looked around one last time at the dresses.

“Goodnight , girl” her mother hung up.

“Alright” she chuckled. “I’m not going to do anything stupid,” she laughed. “Here goes nothing”. She grabbed her trusty black dress and walked into the bathroom.

______________________________________________

“Where are you headed?”

Carter looked up from his chart before tossing it on the front desk. “Wouldn’t you like to know, Malucci”, he smirked.

“Maybe I would. Come on, fess up.I’ll find out eventually”, Dave laughed

“Good bye,” Carter smirked back. “See you tomorrow.” He walked briskly to his car, wrapping his jacket aorund him tightly. John shivered as he sat down in the car , starting up the engine . He looked at himself one more time in the mirror before driving off.

*Back in the hospital *

“He’s up to something,” Dave said as Abby walked by.

“Get a life Malucci,” she chuckled. “Stop caring so much about what other people are doing and do something.” Abby tossed him a chart off the top of the stack,”Like this patient here,” she pushed the chart into his stomach.

“What are you doing later?” Dave winked,leaning against the desk.

“Dinner , and I was thinking maybe a movie,” a deep soft voice behind him answered.

“Right.” Dave turned around, “I forgot all about you Luka.”

Abby smiled,”See you later, Dave.” she walked to the lounge with Luka.

“There is something off about that man.Should I be envious?” Luka asked,raising an eyebrow

“Of Dave?” Abby replied.”PLease.Let’s just forget you ever said a thing.” She leaned her head on his chest.

“I can do that,” Luka kissed the top of her head.

_________________________________________________________

Carter ran briskly up the ice covered steps. He clutched the bouquet tightly in his hands. Loud music escaped from the cracks in the window, and he tapped his hand loudly on the door.

“There you are,” Jing Mei smiled, “ I thought something had happened, come on in” she suddenly felt almost naked in the black dress.

“You look” he took a deep breath.

“Don’t waste your breath, John” she chuckled, “especially since you’re having such a hard time catching yours”.

Carter grinned , “I missed you Deb”

She grabbed her coat off the couch, “Later.We have to get to the restaurant if we want to make our reservations ,” Jing Mei stood on her toes to kiss his cheek,”I missed you , too”.

She waited until he left the house first,standing on her doorstep as she locked up. “It’s nothing you seen been done before, go start the car” she smirked,obviously proud of herself.

“Yes Ma’am!” he called and ran to the car. She shook her head as she threw the keys back in her purse and followed him to the car.

____________________________________________________________

*Back at County*

“Hey Chief,” he called

“Why are you still at the front desk , why aren’t you doing anything, and please tell me you’re not that desperate,” Kerry snapped back, not turning around.

“All I said was hey!” Dave cried.

“Please go before I actually feel some sort of compassion for you, Malucci” , Kerry called, walking towards the lounge,”NOW!”

Cleo laughed, holding her side. “Wooo, she got you!”

Dave glared,”Yeah, yeah” he started to laugh,”I can’t think of a damn come- back this time!”

“ NOW MALUCCI”, Kerry cried from the lounge, making Cleo and Dave jump.”Of course,” he muttered,”of course”.

____________________________________________________________________

“Looking forward to returning to work?” he asked, wiping the window with his jacket sleeve.”No” Deb rolled her eyes,”I never missed that place.Oh” she sucked her breath in,”Sorry”.

There was pain in his eyes. “No,it’s understandable,” Carter said quietly,”I would have avoided that place at all costs, especially if I had left the way you did”

Shock and amusement covered Deb’s face. “I had that coming, didn’t I?” she smirked,”It was a mistake.You can’t tell me you haven’t made any mistakes since I left”

He glared out of the window.”Yeah,I’ve just been perfect” . They sat in silence John pulled up to the restaurant. “I don’t know if I still want to do this.”

Deb took a deep breath. “Why not,” she took a deep breath,”why didn’t you tell me?Why did I have to find out through my mother, John?”, her heart was racing in her chest.

Carter rested his forehead against the window. The valet parkers stood by the door, waiting for some kind of signal. “I don’t know,” he swallowed,”I don’t know.”

Deb nodded, stepping out of the car.”Thank you so much for tonite, and everything else you ever ruined for me,” she snapped as she pushed past the men at the front of the restaurant.

“Where are you going?”, John jumped up out of his seat,”You’re in a small black dress and heels, you aren’t going to get far!”

Deb snickered,”Far far away from you!” she called out.”As far away as I possible can”.

He stood by his car shaking his head. “Sir?” the parker gently touched his arm.”Yeah, sure,whatever,” Carter mumbled, handing the man his keys.

_________________________________________________________________

* Back at County *

“Hey Malucci!”

Dave turned around,”Who, oh hey!” he said surprised.

“What happened to you?? What am I supposed to say to Tori,Dave?”she snapped.

“Can we talk in there?”, Dave pointed to the lounge.

“No! You bastard.Your’e gonna hear this, here, in front of everyone”, she placed her hands on her hips.”What have you been doing with your life?”.

“I’ve been working. That’s it,” Dave mumbled. “And desperately hitting on women, don’t forget that,”Cleo chuckled. “Not now,” Dave said quietly,”not right now”.

Cleo looked from Dave, to the woman, and blushed. “I’m sorry,” and slinked away.

“ You’ve turned yourself into a fucking male prostitute to keep from seeing your own daughter. You son of a bitch”, she screamed. Dave hung his head.

________________________________________________________________________

“That’s a scary idea ,” Peter looked up from the stack of papers in front of him. “Yeah, and he must be doing a horrible job at it, because the girl,” Cleo rested her feet on the stack of more papers in front of her,”was down here, yelling at him, in front of everyone.”

“It’s a tough job, trying to balance medicine and children”, he said softly.

“I didn’t mean you and Reese, Peter. You try. Evidently, he doesn’t even care” Cleo lay her feet down on the floor.”When are you getting off?”.

________________________________________________________________________

“Kerry!”, Romano tapped the desk top behind her. “What is it , Robert?”, Kerry groaned, not even turning around. “Am I not doing enough work down here, just so you can get off easier?”.

“Actually,” he took a deep breath, “I wanted to invite you to dinner.”

__________________________________________________________________

“I thought I told you to leave me alone ,” Deb snapped. “I know you did, but I can’t leave my friend out in the cold , all by herself” he muttered.

“I had nightmares , John! Night after night, I could picture you on the brink of death in my head,” she turned around and glared at him. “Can we go inside.Maybe buy you a drink, or something,” he touched her shoulder. Deb pulled away,”I don’t want anything from you.I shouldn’t even really expect anything from you, should I?”

He pulled her into his arms,”I’m sorry”, he muttered into her hair,”I just wanted to forget”. Deb rested her forehead against his shoulder,“Take me home.” Carter nodded,”I think I can do that for you.”

____________________________________________________________________

Deb sat speechless the entire ride. “What’s wrong with you?I live there”, she pointed to the house he passed. “I know you do,” he muttered, as he kept driving. “John , what are you up to?” she turned her body towards his as he kept on.

“Remeber that old dive we used to go to everynight while we were in med school?”, he drummed the steering wheel with his fist,”Yeah”, Deb said suspicously. “We’re going to eat there for dinner”, he answered.

______________________________________________________________________

* Back at the Hospital*

“What seems to be the problem ,Malucci?”, Kerry came up behind hi. Dave nearly jumped out of his skin,”I,uh,” he stuttered, looking from Lareina to Kerry nervously.

“Dr.Weaver, this is Lareina.Lareina, this is my boss” the muscle in Dave’s jaw tensed.

“Nice to meet you,”Kerry faked a smile,”I’m afarid I have to steal Dr.Malucci from you, though” she yanked on his arm.

Dave looked at her confused.”I,uh,okay” he replied , quietly.”I’ll talk to you later Lareina” he said softly,hanging his head as Kerry led him into the lounge.

“I know you have an explanation for that,but I don’t want it out of you right now” Kerry rambled,”Everything is so chaotic around here,you’ll have your turn to make me worry”

______________________________________________________________________

“You mean the place we used to eat when we were in med school” she eyed the blocks of broken concerte at her feet.

“I’ve been away.Things change” he muttered.

That caused a lump to form in Deb’s throat.”Yeah”, she said quietly,”they do”. She jumped off the concerte block she had been standing on. “I’m sorry “she touched his shoulder,”I overreacted”.

He chuckled.”You don’t have to be the peace maker this time Deb” .

She hung her head, contemplating his words. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t “ Deb said quietly.

With the remaining bravery he could muster up, Carter hugged her shoulders, resting is his head on top of hers.

“And I see you have no arguement” Deb teased, trying desperately to ease the akward silence.

“You’re right, I don’t” he replied, giving her shoulders a squeeze.

“I’m cold” , she turned to him and held out her blueish arms, covered in goosebumps, “Can we go?”.

Carter nodded, tossing an arm aroud her shoulder.

“It’s really weird the way you do that , John”, Deb leaned her head against the back of this arm.

“Do what?” he asked, looking down into her eyes.

“One minute you have a friend, the next you completely shut that friend out, and now we’re friends again”, she smiled up at him,”it’s completely neurotic”.

“It’s part of my program” he chuckled,”driving everybody around you crazy when you feel your own sanity slipping”.

Deb shook her head, and started to walk back to the car.”It’s you” she said,”You were and still completely neurotic”. Deb stood by the passenger side,waiting for him to open the door.”Come on John,I’m cold”. She rubbed her arms to prove it.

“I’m neurotic!” he rested his arm on the roof of the car, it looked like he was reaching out to her.”You’re one to talk Deb “ he teased.

“Fine,I’m crazy too.John!” she protested,watching him sit in the driver’s side, proudly grinning.”Come on!” she put her hands on her hips.

He held his hands out,defensively. John could’nt help but chuckle.”What’s wrong Deb?” there was a sick enjoyment in watching her lose her cool.

“Fine.You want to play this game, I can play” she narrowed her eyes on his smug face in the car. Deb reached down for the nearest piece of flat metal ,and start jimmying the window open.

“DEB!What are you doing!” he screeched. Deb looked up and returned his smug face.

“Move”, she said, half her body sticking out of the open window, as she tried to shimmy into the passenger seat.”My dress,oh god” Deb grimaced.

He laughed,loudly as she slipped onto the passenger seat,followed by a loud rip. “Your dress, Deb” .

She looked down at her now bare bottom half,”Thank you so much” Deb pursed her lips, “Can we go?” .

Carter reached behind him and handed her the blanket he had in the back. “There.At least you don’t have to be so embarrassed.” He looked over at her,smiling.

“I’m sitting here in my panties, John.I’m going to be embarrassed!” she snapped,purposely avoiding his eyes.

“You’ve seen more of me” Carter chuckled.

“Well,that’s true” Deb tucked the blanket around her legs laughing,”that’s true”.

________________________________________________________________________

“You’re being riduculous Mark”, Elizabeth pouted in the hall, her hands on her hips defensively.

“Shhh,everything will be fine.Right Rachel?” he turned around and smiled at the smug teenager behind him.

“Yeah Dad,everything will be fine.”

Elizabeth shook her head, “isn’t it too late?I mean, doesn’t Rachel have school tomorrow?” there was a small hint of worry in her voice.

“I’m not taking her to Alaska” he zipped his jacket all the way to his neck,”I’m taking her to Dad’s gravesite” Mark kissed her forehead,”and we’ll be back in a little”

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* Back at the Hospital *

“Malucci!” Kerry called out. Dave jumped up, hitting his head on the edge of the desk.

“Yes Chief?” he had little energy after the earlier events, besides, he owed her for saving his ass.

“Come here” she poked her red head out of Curtain 2 .

“Fine,fine” he muttered, sulking.

“Yeah, and he doesn’t even go to see his daughter” Dave turned around to hear who was gossiping about him. But he didn’t even have the energy to protest.

“Malucci, this is Gloria” Kerry sighed, recgonizing the old spark return to her least favorite doctor. Chuckling, “and she needs your help on a paternity test” just as quickly as the spark had returned, it disappeared. “She’s an old friend of mine , Dave”.

“Shouldn’t you get a nurse for this?” he crossed his arms over his chest defensively.

“Not that kind of test , Dr.Malucci” Gloria said quietly.

Dave looked at Kerry curiously. “I thought you said..”

“I said she needs your help on a paternity test. I pulled the file , when Lareina had Tori” Kerry answered,” She’s got other answers.” she smiled,”that could get you out of all your trouble” Kerry hobbled away.

“You mean I’m not Tori’s dad?” Dave swallowed hard.

“It sure looks that way Dr.Malucci” Gloria handed him the paper with the results.

He instintively ripped the paper in half,” Thank you for your time” Dave walked away . “Oh god” he muttered,sinking down into the nearest chair.

“What’s wrong Dave?” Randi tapped his shoulder lightly.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you” he turned his head up to look at her face, “It’s just too bizarre”.

_______________________________________________________________________

“I’ll give you the blanket tomorrow” Deb tucked the corners in , and wrapped the blanket around her like a make shift skirt.

“Okay” he chuckled,”nothing normal ever happens when we go out, you know that?”

Deb nodded,”I know.Oh do I know” she shook her head,”it’s like it’s a bad omen or something to be seen with you” she said teasingly.

“Enough with the teasing.You broke my car, I should be teasing you” Carter smirked, resting his hand on her knee.

“Please. You deserved all the damage I did to your car, and more” Deb smiled,”now I have to go in, get some sleep” she rested her head against the seat.

“thank you” he leaned over and kissed her cheek.

Deb pulled away quickly, her heart beating so fast in her chest she thought it was going to jump out. “Any time” she swallowed hard,”anytime”.

__________________________________________________________________

“When were you going to tell me Dad”, Rachel crossed her arms across her chest. Looking at her reminded Mark of Jen.

“You look just like your mother” he said softly.

“Dad, when were you going to tell me about the baby, the tumor?”

He took a deep breath. “The plan was after the surgery. Then I had the surgery, and I thought, after the chemo. Then the chemo was over, and things were going so well, I figured Elizabeth would tell you at my funeral”.

Rachel turned her body away, facing the otherside of the hill they were standing on. “At your funeral” she said quietly.

“Aren’t you happy about the baby?” there was still a tiny bit of hope left in his voice, which she could easily demolish.

“Should I be?” she snapped. “You’re going to leave it fatherless, just like you did me”.

________________________________________________________________________

*Back at the Hospital *

“Have you seen Randi, Frank?” Kerry asked, slinging her purse over her shoulder. She caught Romano standing by the entrance of the hospital, watching her.

“Nope , Dr.Weaver.” he answered, looking up from the computer.

“Dr.Malucci?” she asked, getting her answer automatically by the empty look on Frank’s face. “Okay,I’m leaving” Kerry took a deep breath.

“Are you ready yet?” Romano asked bitterly,”I can’t believe some of the people that walk through these doors. That’s why I like surgery”.

Kerry tuned him out, remebering to smile, so it looked like she was paying attenion. As they walked out into the parking lot, she spotted Dave’s steamed up windows. “Oh geeshh” she muttered.

“What ?” Robert asked,”what’s wrong?” .

Kerry chuckled,”nothing,nothing at all.Where are you taking me exactly?”.

_____________________________________________________________________

“Sshh, Weaver’s leaving with Romano” Randi hissed.

“A couple made in hell” Dave replied, kissing her neck.

“Wait till they leave,I couldn’t continue with a clear concious otherwise” she smirked.

“Since when did you have a concious , Randi?” Dave teased, resting his head on his folded arms.

“Since seeing them together made my stomach turn” she playfully punched his stomach.”what was it you wanted to tell me, anyway?” Randi rested her head on his chest.

“I have a daughter” he said quietly.

“I know” she replied,”I heard “.

______________________________________________________________________

“You coming in?” Deb held the door open, waiting for him to make up his mind.

“No, not today” Carter smiled,”one last hug?”.

Deb chuckled,”fine, but then you leave”, she walked into his arms.

“Of course” he kissed the top of her head.

Deb felt herself melting, something that had her confused.”I mean it John” she tried to sound serious,”I’m serious”.

He nodded, taking her face in his hands. Carter took a deep breath, and kissed her gently on the lips. He waited for a second, waiting for some kind of arguement from her, some sort of fight.

Deb pulled away, the color drained from her face. “Are you coming in?” she swallowed hard.

“For a little” he answered quietly.

“Okay,” she held the door open ,”only for alittle”.

_____________________________________________________________________

Mark looked over at the sleeping girl in the passanger seat. He tucked the blanket around her, and started the car. The sun was just beginning to peak through the sky, and he was anxious to get home. Elizabeth would comfort him,tell him he was doing everything the best he possibly could.

“You were gone too long” she tied the robe around her pregnant stomach taut.

“I’m sorry. We had to talk” he lifted the teenage girl in his arms, and carried her in the house.

“What happened?” she asked gently.

“I was wrong” a lump started to grow in his throat as he lay Rachel gently on the couch. “She could have handled the news, probably better than I did.She’s not a child anymore” Mark’s voice shook,”and she gave me another look at this baby thing” he looked up at Elizabeth.

She took his head to her chest,” You’re not leaving it fatherless” she replied, recognizing the pain in his eyes.

“I am. I’m going to be dead before” the lump had blocked anymore words, and Mark started to cry.

“Sshh, come to bed Mark” Elizabeth said softly,”you need your rest”.

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“What are we doing John?” she asked, catching his eye.

“What do you mean?” he moved his hands over her stomach, watching it suck itself in with each sweeping movement.

“You know what I mean”, she bit down on her bottom lip.

“I do, I just don’t want to think about it” he kissed her,pressing himself onto her.

Deb ran her fingers through his hair, trying not to think about what they were finally doing, stuff she had only fantasied about before. “John” she mumbled unbuttoning his shirt,”I think” she took a deep breath,smiling as she saw his eyes were watching her,his eyes were listening.

“What do you think?” he pulled his lips away, taking deep hoarse breaths.

“I think we’re playing this by heart” she chuckled, struggling with his belt.

“We’re playing by heart,eh?” Carter raised an eyebrow,”I think this is the only time I’m going to say this, Deb”, he kissed behind her ear,”you’re talking too much”

_________________________________________________________________

*back at the Hospital *

Randi shot Dave a smile from the front desk. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“YOU!” Lareina pointed to Dave, who snuck into the lounge in nearly enough time.

“Dr.Malucci is busy with a patient right now.Can I take a message?” there was a hint of attitude in her voice.

“I don’t need your lies, you little hoochie” Lareina spat,”He hasn’t sent his checks in 2 months, and I’m getting his money, NOW!”

Randi rolled her eyes, pulling out her purse from under the admit desk.”Here”, she handed her a wad of bills,”Go get your weave and your nails done, and get a life” .

Lareina grabbed the bills angrily. “He’s not worth it” she replied, “You’re wasting your life away!”

Randi turned around just in time to see Dave poke his head out from the lounge.

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Abby sat on the edge of the bed. “What’s wrong?” Luka asked gently, sitting up.

“Nothing’s wrong Luka” she turned her head, to smile at him.

“You’re really quiet” he scooted over to her, and held her hand.

“Am I? I didn’t mean to,I’ve been thinking” she replied,kissing his fingers.

“What’s wrong?” he asked again, resting his head on her lap.

“Um, Luka” Abby, ran her fingers through his hair.Her heart almost stopped when she saw the way he was adoringly looking up at her.”I’m pregnant”.

______________________________________________________________

“Rachel, Rachel, we need to talk” Liz tried to wake her up gently.

“What do you want” she hissed angrily, her eyes still half closed.

“You really hurt your father” Liz sat down at the foot of the couch.She lifted Rachel’s feet on what was left of her lap.

“Huh?” Rachel mumbled.

“Earlier, when you were talking with your father.You really hurt him” .

“Oh,”Rachel kicked her feet off Elizabeth’s lap,”I just told him the truth”.

Liz nodded, “I understand you wanting to do that, but it’s such a hard time for him, your words , he” she dropped her face.

“Did I really hurt him?” she sounded like a little girl again.

Liz brought her face up , and swallowed hard. “ I’m sorry Rachel. I shouldn’t have done this. He was so upset when he brought you home.It’s been hard” the tears were racing down her cheeks. “I think he wanted to know you were still there for him”

Rachel turned over, hiding her tears from Liz. “I can’t be “ she said quietly,her shoulders shaking. “He, I know he tried.But it’s just like he’s giving me and Mom up to start all over again”.

“If he were starting all over again” Liz touched her head,”he wouldn’t have asked you to come stay with us, he wouldn’t have asked you to be in the wedding. He wouldn’t have asked your mother if you could spend the summer with us in your Grandfather’s cabin”.

Rachel sat up, leaning her head against Liz’s shoulder.

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Deb moved the piece of hair away from his eyes before turning over and trying to get some sleep.

“Hey” he mumbled sleepily. Deb pulled the sheet up over her shoulders.

“hey yourself” she kissed the tip of his nose,”I was just about to go to sleep”.

He circled his arms around her waist,pulling her closer to him.”I know” he smiled, his eyes closed,”I guess you would call this playing by heart , instead of instinct, right?”

Deb chuckled,”Sometimes you talk too much John”

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“Are you mad at me “ Dave asked.

“Sort of” Randi replied, her hand on the door’s handle.

“I’m sorry, I guess” he muttered.

“You are the worst at apologies,Malucci” she snapped.

“I’m a man, what do you expect?” he said light heartingly.

“Something more from you” she turned her body away from him, and positioned her feet to run away from the car.

“Really?” he was taken back with surprise.

“Really. I love you Dave” she said quietly, and opened the door, running quickly away from the car.

Dave rested his head against the steering wheel. “I love you too Randi” he said quietly.

_________________________________________________________________

“When are you going to tell people Kerry?” Romano looked at her eagerly.

Kerry chuckled,”That would go over so well, I can almost hear Dave now” she smiled,”we’re the couple from hell”.

He nodded,”we are something, me and you”.

Kerry shook her head, “ I know”.

Robert tapped his hands against the table, as the waiter came by with the check. “I don’t know what to say”.

“Here’s a first” she teased,”Dr.Robert the Rocket Romano at a lose of words” Kerry smirked,”don’t say anything.You’re going to ruin the moment”.

“The moment” he laughed, “Sometimes I forget all about the moment”

____________________________________________________________________

Playing By Heart soundtrack-
1- The Best I ever had: Vertical Horizion
2 - Siren : Tori Amos
3- Love Song: The Cure
4 - Right Now : SR-71
5- Stricken : No Doubt
6 - I want you to want me : Letters To Cleo
7- Live Again : Better Than Ezra
8- Cherish: Madonna
9- I’m On Fire: Bruce Springsteen
10- There she goes: Six Pence None the Richer
11- Drops from Jupiter: Train
12- I’m Not cryin’ for you: Save Ferris
13-What would happen :Meredith Brooks
14- Southside : Moby
15- Need to be next to you:Leigh Nash
16- When I grow up: Garbage
17- Hemorrage (in my hands) : Fuel
18- Elsewhere :Sarah McLachlan