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"Well, I guess that's it." John came down the stairs carrying his bag. They were waiting for him and he felt a pang in his stomach when he saw their faces.

"We'll miss you, John." Veronica kissed his lips, then his forehead.

"I'll definitely miss you, too, Veronica. You are the most fantastic woman I have ever met. And so much more." He smiled; kissing the hands that cradled his face. John finally pulled himself away and he turned to Brandon.

"Let's say we make next time a little sooner than our last time seeing each other, huh?" Brandon said. For the first time in a week, both men stood awkwardly, having trouble with a manly display of emotions. Finally, John reached out and pulled Brandon into a hug.

Brandon had always loved John's hugs. When he hugged someone he really cared about, John hugged with his entire body, not just his arms. Brandon could feel his entire body press up to his, feeling a bit strange to actually have cloths on again. John did look good standing there in his slacks, dress shirt, suspenders, and tie. It took all Brandon had not to rip them right back off of John's frame.

"I guess it's time for me to go." John said, wanting to say so much more but the words betraying him. He pulled away from Brandon, needing the break in the physical contact. Veronica handed him a small box.

"Here. This is just a little something from us, hoping that by wearing it, you'll remember how special you are and how much we love you and care about you." She said. John stood there looking at the box, utterly speechless.

"Don't open it now. Open it when the plane lands back in Chicago." Brandon instructed, taking the box from John's hand and placing it in John's coat pocket.

"I, uh, I don't know what to say." John managed to get out. He smiled at the two of them, knowing they'd changed his life and he was walking from their home a different person.

"You really need to go if you're going to get to work on time." Veronica warned. John nodded and he walked toward the door. He turned one last time, looked deeply into their eyes and he walked out.


"Dr. Carter." Fredrick smiled, holding the door open for John. John got into the limousine and Fredrick climbed into the driver's seat. As they began to pull out, away from the house, Fredrick rolled the window separating them down. "Should I assume you had a relaxing vacation, Dr. Carter?" He said, smiling into the rearview mirror. John looked at him for a moment before breaking into a huge grin.

"You could say that, Fredrick. You could say that." He leaned his head back against the leather and closed his eyes.


It wasn't until the limousine pulled up in front of County to drop John off before he remembered about the gift. Standing in the ambulance bay, limousine pulling away, John opened the simple package. Inside was a leather bracelet, very masculine yet a touch of feminine style. He smiled and looked closely at the etching into the leather. The simple initials "FHT" were repeated over and over the entire length. John smiled. Fantasy, Hunger and Trust. Indeed.


"Carter! Welcome back!" Haleh said, coming up to him. "Well, your head doesn't look so bad." She touched it, trying to take off the bandage. John had almost forgotten about his head.

"It's fine, thanks." He said, pulling away.

"How many stitches, man? Malik asked from behind the desk.

"Nearly fifty." John said, bragging just a bit. Everyone was watching him and he just wanted to put his stuff down.

"You just getting back from your 'dinner'?" Chuni asked with a mischievous grin. By the looks on their faces, they had temporarily forgotten where John had been for a week. John blushed.

"I gotta go to my locker." He said, looking down, listening to Chuni and the rest of the nurses giggling.

John went into the lounge and he saw Abby, who instantly smiled and gave him a hug.

"Hey, there. I was thinking you'd never come back." She said as he set his bag inside the locker.

"I didn't want to." He smiled, knowing that she knew and being comfortable with that.

"I bet. If I was getting it around the clock, I don't think I'd want to be here either." She kidded. John rolled his eyes in the typical Abby Lockhart roll.

"I have got some stories to tell you." He chuckled, putting on his lab coat.

"Well, the important thing is you look happy. I mean, really happy." She said, walking towards the door.

"I am. For the first time I can remember for years, I have to say that yes, Abby. I am happy." He stated, more to himself than to her. Just then, Dr. Weaver walked in.

"Give me the dirt later, Carter." Abby called on her way out. John stood nervously for several minutes, watching Dr. Weaver get a cup of coffee. His stare was making her uncomfortable.

"Did you need something, Dr. Carter?" She asked, turning around.

"Uh, no, Dr, Weaver." He said, chickening out. She looked at him for a bit.

"How's your head?" She asked, knowing he wanted to say more.

"Fine. Only a slight headache." He said, nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot.

"Good. Let me know if you get dizzy or anything." She said, heading towards the door. John figured this was his only chance.

"So, what happened with you and the boys from Harvard? Some wild night involving maybe some tiquella?" He asked, grinning. Kerry blushed a bright shade of red. He knew she knew.

"How much did she tell you?" She asked, smiling.

"Enough. So, how much of what they had planned did you know about?" He in turn asked. She winked.

"Enough." She smiled; both knowing Kerry probably knew intimate details about what had happened. If she didn't know them yet, she would know them the next time she and Veronica spoke. Kerry noticed the bracelet. John rarely wore any jewelry so it caught her eye. She walked to him and held up his wrist. "What does 'FHT' stand for?" She asked. John smiled fondly.

"Fantasy, hunger and trust." He said quietly but with a smile. Kerry met his eyes and they looked at each other for several seconds.

"Hm. Pretty good motto to live by if you ask me." She turned back towards the door. "I expect you out here in two minutes, Dr. Carter. Not all of us have had a week's vacation." She turned on the business tone but she managed to smile and wink before she walked all the way out.

John sighed. Here he was, back in his own real world. For some strange reason, it didn't seem so bad. He slung his stethoscope over his neck and headed out towards the admit desk.

"Well, well, Dr. Carter." Robert Romano placed his arm around the young doctor in a frighteningly warm gesture. "You must tell be all the details of your quarter of a million dollar trip."

John rolled his eyes to Abby, who just giggled. This would be a long shift.
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