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THAT KIND OF DAY

"Oh shit."

Mark followed Benton's gaze. It took only a moment for him to realize what Benton was thinking. "You have got to be kidding."

The other staff members looked from Greene to Benton, then up at the television.

"No." Luka was the second to react, shaking his head in disbelief. "No one's luck can be that bad."

"What? You're saying Carter's on that train?" Dave asked, wide- eyed. "No way!"

"Are you sure?" Mark demanded.

Without looking at him, Benton hit a button to re-play the message and passed the cell phone to Mark wordlessly. The attending listened silently for a moment. "Whoa!" he exclaimed, pulling back suddenly at the sound of the gunshot. He stared down at the phone in his hand, then looked across at Benton with worried eyes. "Okay," he agreed softly, slowly, as though his reluctance could change the situation.

"Hey, can I hear it too?" Dave asked eagerly, holding out his hand.

Benton just glared at him, ignoring his request. "How long has this been going on?"

"A couple of hours now." Luka glanced from Greene to Benton and back. He didn't want to hear the message: their reactions had told him enough.

The surgeon was about to ask another question when his cell phone started to ring. Mark quickly handed it back, with a relieved smile. "That's probably him. Maybe it was - " he tried to think of something else the bang could have been.

Benton was no longer listening to the attending. He snatched the phone up, turning his back to the others. "Hello!" he barked.

"Maybe it was a tire blowing out," suggested Dave hopefully. Chuny silenced him with a single glare, her excitement over the incident extinguished by the idea that someone she knew might be involved.

"Carter?" Benton's voice was low, urgent. "Carter, man, is that you? Can you hear me? Can you say something? If you can hear me, cough right now." There was a long pause. The entire ER staff collectively inched towards him. "Carter!" He drew in a deep breath and appeared to calm down slightly. "Carter, okay, hold on, hold on. DAMN IT!" Benton shouted suddenly, pivoting to face them, the phone still against his ear.

The surgeon looked unseeingly at them all for a second, then his desperate black gaze latched onto Malucci. "Where are they?" he demanded tersely.

"I - um, what?" Dave stuttered, flustered by the unexpected attention.

"Peter, what's going on?" Mark questioned, his anxious expression belying the calm tone he forced into his voice.

"I have to get out there. Where are they?"

"What? You're suddenly a hostage negotiator? What the hell good are you going to do out there?" Dr Greene asked incredulously.

"Oh, for God's sake - " Benton broke off abruptly in frustration. He strode towards the television, shoving aside everyone in his path. He gazed up at the picture intently, still cradling the phone to his ear. "Well, he didn't get very far," the surgeon muttered to himself with a frown of recognition. He turned to leave only to find Dr Greene standing in front of him.

"Peter, there's no point in going. You can't do anything," Mark reminded him gently. "You might as well wait; they'll probably bring everyone here as soon as they get freed."

Benton stared at the man blocking him. Then, mutely, he handed the phone over. Everyone watched as Dr Greene listened, then paled, his expression growing hard and brittle. After a few seconds, he returned the cell. "They have paramedics out there?" he asked, receiving a nod from Randi who had been watching the entire day. Mark stepped aside. "Go." The surgeon bolted for the door. "Dr Kovac, go with him," Mark ordered.

Luka exchanged confused looks with Dave, Abby and the nurses. "What?" he asked tentatively.

"Just go!" Mark roared. Luka hurried to follow Benton.

Dr Greene turned to the remaining staff. "Abby, check Carter's blood type and get at least five units sent down here now. Dave, call the OR..." And tell them what? he wondered. That they had a gunshot victim in severe respiratory distress but that they didn't know when they'd be able to bring him in? Mark shut his eyes briefly, wanting to block out the sound of Carter's labored breathing, the wet, gurgling sound of a punctured lung trying unsuccessfully to draw in air. He opened them to find Dave looking at him expectantly. "Never mind. We'll just have to wait."

Part 5