AUTHOR: Kacey Linden
DISCLAIMER: "ER" belongs to Warner Bros. Its characters belong to Warner Bros. I own nothing. I make nothing. God, my life sucks.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: All right, you're all going to pay for what you've done to me! More specifically, this story is for Kristen and Debbie and Sharon and Cathy and most recently Emily and all the Tums you've put me through with your cliffhangers! Also, I'm doing this without Debbie's prior knowledge so all errors are mine. Again. I hate having to take responsibility for my work.
This takes place after, and makes reference to, "All Evil Chances". I am getting continuity!
SUMMARY: On the way home from work, Carter gets caught up in a hostage situation.
In a way, it was like asking for trouble. But still they continued to watch the news every day. Some of the staff thought of it as a kind of warning signal. Something was on the news; less than ten minutes later, the casualties of that story came through the doors. The special reports that broke into regular programming were almost always helpfully informative. Gas leaks, burning buildings, multiple car crashes- how reporters managed to get there before the paramedics managed to make it to the hospital was a question they had long ceased to ask.
Mark Greene wandered absent-mindedly to the admit desk, scribbling some final notes into his latest patient's file. He looked up from his work to discover that almost the entire staff was staring up at the television monitor. "What's going on?" he asked, much more mildly than Kerry would have done, had she been on duty.
There was a moment of silence while each person assumed another would answer.
"Some madman is holding people hostage on the El," Luka finally replied, shifting perturbed eyes from the screen to the attending.
"Yeah, about five blocks from here!" added Chuny, at the moment more excited than concerned.
The Channel 2 helicopter hovered a good distance away from the halted train, and Mark found that he could recognize exactly where the incident was unfolding.
"That's less than three stops away!" he exclaimed while gently nudging Abby Lockhart to one side so he could get a closer look.
The movement of the chopper made the camera bounce nauseatingly, and the picture wavered, but it was evident that all but one carriage had been evacuated to the nearest platform. Only partial silhouettes suggested where the hostages were seated; most appeared to have their heads bowed. Mark felt a rush of detached sympathy for them.
The picture shifted from the train to a young, blonde reporter strapped into the passenger-side chopper seat. "Once again, the man, who has yet to be identified, has been holding approximately twenty to twenty-five people hostage for the past two hours." The camera resumed its focus on the motionless train. "At least four shots have been fired and there are indications that some of the hostages have been injured. So far police have been unable to contact the man to determine either his intentions or the seriousness of those injuries. We will keep you informed as this situation continues."
"Well, this certainly looks like a group of hard-working people," commented Benton as he approached the admission desk.
Mark gave him a dry smile. The others either ignored or didn't hear the remark; they were still riveted to the television. "You might want to run back to the OR; looks like you'll be getting a couple gunshot wounds tonight."
"Not me. I'm off, as of," Benton glanced at his watch, "five minutes ago."
"Giving Carter a ride?" Mark asked, although he already knew the answer. The resident's Jeep had never resurfaced after the shooting, and Carter had not yet bought another car. There was a rumor that Millicent Carter had a new Jeep delivered to Carter's apartment when he was released from the hospital, but the fact was that Carter had been showing up with Benton every morning, and leaving with him at night.
"Oh, Dr Benton!" Dave interrupted upon hearing Carter's name. He pointed his index finger at the surgeon, eyes glued to the television screen. "John left early; Weaver let him go: said he looked exhausted and sent him home. He told me he'd try to reach you on your cell. She'd never send me home, not even if I were coughing both my lungs out my...." he tried to think of a suitably horrible ejection point, "my ass."
"Is that considered coughing?" Chuny asked with a grin.
"Whatever," said Dave, evidently still disgruntled about Weaver's lack of hypothetical sympathy.
Benton frowned as he extracted his cell phone from his pocket, knowing that he had not heard it go off once the entire day. Carter had seemed fine that morning... "Damn," he muttered. Although he had carried it around all day, he had forgotten to actually turn it on, or had switched it off inadvertently at some point. Sighing at his stupidity, he dialed for his messages. He idly observed that the ER staff was leaning forwards in unison and wondered what was so damn interesting on television.
"Hi, Dr Benton, it's me, Carter." Benton half-smiled at the way the resident had tacked on his name as an afterthought. Carter might not have been comfortable addressing the surgeon by his first name yet, but there was definitely more familiarity between them. "I tried to call you upstairs before I left but I guess you're in surgery or something. I just wanted to let you know that I'm heading home early so you don't have to give me a ride. I'm on the - "
Carter's voice was suddenly obliterated by an extremely loud bang.
Benton jerked back from the cell phone instinctively, ripping it away from his ear. "What the hell?" he bellowed, even as he realized what the sound was. "Oh my God." He rammed the phone back against his ear, hoping to hear some sort of explanation, or reassurance. But the message was over. He replayed it hastily. It ended with the gunshot. "Shit!"
Everyone's attention had shifted to Benton at his first sudden outburst, but it was Mark who asked the question. Benton was silent for a moment, uncertain how to explain what he had heard, uncertain if he had heard what he thought he had heard. He looked over all their inquiring faces at the television screen.
"That's right. So far there have been four shots fired, and the police have informed us that at least two of the hostages have indeed been wounded, although the seriousness of these injuries is unknown at this time."
Benton watched with dawning horror as the Channel 2 camera panned across the entire length of the stationary El train. "Oh shit."
Prologue Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9