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"Hey," Abby smiled as John came in to the apartment. "I thought your flight wasn't coming in until morning." She said, up to her elbows in dishwater.

"I caught an earlier flight." He smiled as he set down his luggage and came over to give her a kiss on the back of her neck. He loved how she looked on her days off, hair pulled up in a messy ponytail, old Bulls shirt that once belonged to him and usually a pair of his old boxers. She was always working on one project or another, particularly with their wedding date approaching.

Abby looked hard at his face. "Anything I should know?"

He snickered. "No, the conference was boring, Brandon is fine and Veronica sends her love. Can you believe that they are actually talking about opening an office here in Chicago?" He explained, popping his neck. It didn't matter if you flew first class or coach, planes always knotted his neck up.

"Really? That would be great. With the amount of time Veronica has been spending at the Center, it would be great to have them closer." She said. Besides, she also knew John would love to have Brandon closer.

Very few people truly understood John's relationship with Brandon, and yes, they did indeed have a relationship. It only took Abby a few therapy sessions herself to realize that fact and actually say it out loud. It was something that she found was indeed baring her from committing completely to John, knowing she'd always have to share his heart with another.

Veronica was always there for Abby but as a friend. Veronica was very much in the same boat, having to share her husband but she'd had Brandon all to herself for much longer than Abby had and understood the situation better. Abby was still a bit insecure when it came to her relationships.

Actually, when it came right down to it, Abby was still insecure about many things. She had, however managed to stay dry and still even went to AA meetings but usually only after having to spend the day with Mrs. Carter.

Eleanor meant well. She was just trying to make up for all the hurt, all the pain that John had been through in his life and sometimes, John just wished to go back to the days when she had never known what happened to him as a child. At least he'd be able to look her in the eyes without seeing the guilt. A hard and withdrawn Eleanor was better sometimes than a meddling Eleanor. Particularly when nothing Abby did was right.

"Are you tired?" Abby noticed that John had dark circles under his eyes.

"Uh, yeah." He smiled sheepishly. "I haven't gotten much sleep. I think I'm going to lie down for a while." He finally gave in and admitted he was tired. "Care to join me?" He winked as he held out his hand.

"I'd love to." She tossed the dishrag onto the counter and gladly followed.


John rolled over and he hit the top pf the alarm to quiet its buzzing. Abby tossed her pillow at him.

"Go, so I can go back to sleep." She mumbled, burrowing deep into the piles of covers.

"What? No 'I'll miss you'?" John kidded, kissing her face.

"'Miss you, now go away." She smiled, her eyes still closed. John chuckled and crawled out of bed. Abby had another few hours to sleep but then she'd have to be up as he was.

“Don’t forget you have that meeting with my mother after your shift.” He reminded the sleeping figure.

“It’s not a meeting, John. It’s tea and we’re going over the flowers.” A voice mumbled from under the pillow.

“Whatever. Just don’t forget.” He said gently. She tossed the pillow at him.

“Fine.” She mumbled. John smiled. He needed to get going anyway because he didn’t want to be late for work. Slowly, he stepped into the shower, needing the water to wake him completely. Instead of making the water warm, he kept it cold and the shock to his body made sure he was wide awake in seconds.

"Oh, man!" He mumbled, trying to get his body used to the freezing cascade. He jumped around until he could stand completely under the spray, his whole body shivering.

After dressing, shaving, and kissing Abby once more, John headed off to the El to begin his day at County.


"Just the man I want to see!" Susan commented as John walked through the doors.

"I'm fifteen minutes early, Dr. Lewis." He held up his hands, continuing towards the lounge.

"Just enough time to hand over all these criticals I've been juggling all night." Susan followed with a stack of charts.

"Come on, Susan. Let me at least get a cup of coffee." John complained, walking into the lounge.

"Carter, please. Romano has been leering from the corners the entire night, Weaver's in a bad mood but don't ask me how I can tell because she's acting like she always does and I'm on the rag. I need to get out of here." She complained, collapsing on the couch.

"Busy night?" John sipped his cup of coffee, watching Susan with a hint of amusement.

"Six MVA's, three GSW's, an impaction that Gallant succeeded in disimpacting, right before the guy exploded two weeks worth of shit all over the exam room and some drunk with a puss filled boil on his ass. Need I say more?" Susan recited as John made a face.

"Okay, fine. Give me the charts and get out of here." He finally agreed, tossing his cup into the trashcan.

"Oh, bless you. You've got chest pain in 3. He's hooked up to and EKG monitor. In 2, you've got a ten year old who had a bike accident on his way to school, possible broken ankle, he's waiting to go up to x-ray. Curtain 2, stomach ache, Curtain 1, dehydration, you've got a elderly man rolling up in five who was found not breathing in his nursing home room and I am outta here. Have a great day, John." Susan handed him the charts and turned to her locker.

John chuckled at the stack of charts in his arms. This was going to be a good day.


"All right, Mrs. Waters, that should do it." John slowly stood up and stretched his back. He was stiff again and really needed a muscle relaxer. "Have Chester here keep his knee clean," He shot Chester a warning look. "Keep the bandage on until tomorrow, then let it air dry over night. No picking at it, right?" He ruffled the boy's hair. Chester had been in before and Doctor John remembered cleaning an infected wound more than once.

"Thank you doctor." Mrs. Waters said, gathering her purse. Chester hopped off the table and waved a shy hand towards John.

As John walked mom and tot out to the lounge, he swore he caught a glimpse of his mother going into the lounge. He signed the discharge papers quickly, handing them to Jerry as he kept trying to see into the lounge.

"Uh, here, Jerry. Get Mrs. Waters signed out, okay?" He craned his neck and as soon as the desk clerk grabbed a hold of the chart he was being handed, John went to find out if he was hallucinating.

"Mom?" He asked, walking into the lounge and instantly regretting it. Several of the nurses had also joined Abby and Eleanor, several bridal magazines spread across the tables.

"Dr. Carter!" Haleh called, turning him back around to the door. "You aren't supposed to be in here. We're looking at wedding gowns. You can't see which one's Abby likes. It's bad luck." She insisted, ushering him back to the door.

"But why is my mother here?" He asked, not minding not being allowed to stay, just curious that Eleanor would spend time here for this.

"John, darling, please talk some sense into your fiancé. Explain to her that she cannot wear a white gown." Eleanor complained, grasping John's forearm.

"Mom, there's no reason why she can't wear white if she wants." He said lightly, pulling himself from her grasp.

"But she cannot. White is reserved for those with pure virtues, those who are pure in both mind and body. You cannot stand there and tell me that you and she have never..."

"Mom!" John stopped before she could say anything else. The last thing he needed was his mother discussing his sexual relationship with Abby in front of some of these nurses, who had known him for nearly ten years. He carefully led his mother out of the lounge, leaving Abby and the nurses to snicker over his mother/son relationship display. "Mother, these days, brides wear white." He tried.

"Jonathan Truman Carter, this wedding will have the most influential people in Chicago attending and the last thing we need is your middle aged, previously married, middle class bride walking down the isle of the Cathedral wearing white." She snapped but kept her voice low enough so that only John heard.

Luka glanced over and he could see the irritation in John's eyes. He looked like he was about to explode.

"Dr. Carter, may I get your consult on this case?" Luka walked up to the overbearing mother and furious son before anything could happen.

John glared at his mother, his entire body trembling as he managed to refrain from lashing out. "Mother, we'll discuss this later." He stated, following Dr. Kovac to the other side of the emergency room.

"How are you doing?" Luka asked, holding the chart up so it would look like they were talking about a patient.

"She infuriates me and sometimes I think she does it just to get me pissed off." John snarled, keeping his voice under control.

"What did she say to you that made you so upset?" He asked, not having seen John this upset in months.

"She..." he paused, looking back at his mother going back into the lounge, smile on her face as she rejoined the women. "Nothing. It's not important. Listen, thanks for getting me out of there."

"No problem. Now stay away from there. Abby told me she was going to spend her lunch looking at gowns and I was to keep you busy." Luka smiled, making John laugh softly.


John sat down at the table, blank paper in front of him and he could clearly imagine standing before 300 people but the only person he'd see was the woman in front of him.

"When I sat down to write this, so many words came to me, so many ways to tell you how I felt. You and I have been though so much. We've seen each other as friends, as lovers, as people who can't live without each other. We have supported each other through some very rough times and we have had our share of fights and misunderstandings. We have gotten through what would have broken up most normal couples yet we still managed to stay strong.

Just when I think I can't love you any more, something else happens that makes me love you more. I need you in my life, I need you to need me..."

He stopped, unsure what direction to go. Luka came into the lounge and John flipped the notebook closed quickly.

"Uh, hi." He said, looking curiously in John's direction. "What are you writing?" He asked as he fixed himself a cup of coffee. He could hear John sigh behind him.

"Abby and I are writing our own vows. When we first talked about it, I didn't realize how hard it was going to be." He admitted, opening the notebook back up and looking over the words.

"May I?" Luka asked, motioning to the notebook as he joined John at the table. John slid the notebook towards him.

"I'm just not very good at putting my feelings into words. I never have been. I hear all these song lyrics and poems and I wonder how these people do it, chose which words go together that can convey how much a person means to them verbally." He rambled, watching Luka read the words on the page.

Luka finished and he looked out at the window. John watched him, waiting for some kind of comment. A smile came to Luka's face.

"If questioning would make us wise
No eyes would ever gaze in eyes;
If all our tale were told in speech
No mouths would wander each to each.

Were spirits free from mortal mesh
And love not bound in hearts of flesh
No aching breasts would yearn to meet
And find their ecstasy complete.

For who is there that lives and knows
The secret powers by which he grows?
Were knowledge all, what were our need
To thrill and faint and sweetly bleed?

Then seek not, sweet, the "If" and "Why"
I love you now until I die.
For I must love because I live
And life in me is what you give."

He finished, looking in John's eyes.

"What was that?" John asked, a gentle peace had fallen over the room as he'd listened to Luka's words.

Luka blushed. "It's called 'Because She Would Ask Me Why I Loved Her'. I believe the author's name is Christopher Brennan." He smiled.

"I could never write anything like that." John said, rubbing his face.

"Keep working on it, Carter. The words will come." Luka smiled as he got up and left John to work on his vows.


"It's not boiling yet, Abby." John complained, watching the pot intently.

"Haven't you ever heard the saying that a watched pot never boils?" Abby asked, looking at him.

"This is boring." John grumbled. "I'm hungry." He went to the refrigerator and opened the door. Abby shut it quickly with her hip.

"You have been looking inside that refrigerator over twenty times this afternoon and you never get anything. Come on, we're too close to dinner. I don't want you to ruin it." Abby scolded. "Here, stir the sausage." She handed him a spatula.

"Oh, me and a frying pan? You did talk to Kerry about the time she tried to teach me how to cook, didn't you?" John nervously walked to the stove and peered in the pan of sizzling sausages.

"Not Kerry but Corrine gave me a few tips. Just stir it and brown the meat. I have to get the sauce ready." Abby turned back to the counter and began chopping fresh tomatoes and adding them to the large pot.

"Oh, Abby! It's boiling! Finally!" John said, just a little too excited by some boiling water.

Abby couldn't help but giggle. "Honey, now you add the noodles. Do you think you can handle that?"

"Abby, I am a doctor. I think I can handle putting some noodles into the boiling water." John scoffed, setting the spatula down and opening the box of spaghetti noodles. He dumped the entire box into the water, splashing hot water onto his t-shirt clad stomach. "Oh, shit!" John yelled, backing up and hitting his back against Abby's back, knocking the large pot of fresh spaghetti sauce, spilling it across the tiles, down the front of the cabinets, and splattering onto the floor.

"Dammit, John!" Abby yelled, throwing her hands up in total frustration. John had gotten to the sink, wet the hand towel, and he was holding the cool, wet towel against his soaked belly.

"I am…so sorry, Abby." He said, looking at the red mess all over the kitchen.

"You can be such a klutz sometimes." She complained, beginning to wipe up the mess from the counter.

"I warned you that I was a walking disaster in the kitchen." John shrugged, feeling bad.

Abby turned around and saw the smoke billowing up from the frying pan of sausage still on the burner.

"John, turn the stove off!" She yelled, knowing he was much closer than she was. John turned around and grabbed the handle with his hand, immediately yelling and dropping the pan of cooked sausage all over the floor, splattering grease all down his front and arms.

"Ow! God, that hurts like a sonofabitch!" John cried, holding his hand between his legs in severe pain.

"Put it under cool water, John!" Abby reached forward and grabbed his hand, attempting to get him to the sink but she slipped on the spaghetti sauce and ending up flat on her butt in the middle of the floor.

"Abby, are you okay?" John asked, seeing Abby lay down and turn over. It looked like she was crying. John knelt down next to her, in the middle of the sauce and gently touched her shoulder with his burnt hand. "Honey, are you hurt?" He asked.

Abby lifted her head and she had tears streaming down her face, laughing hysterically. She was covered in tomato sauce, chunks of tomatoes stuck to her hips and oregano dotting her arms. John looked at her, unsure.

"You're laughing?" He asked, a bit hurt. His hands still stung and the kitchen was a disaster. His stomach chose that moment to growl quite loudly, sending Abby into another fit of laughter.

"I'm… sorry!" She managed between fits. John kept staring at her and her giggles were becoming contagious. He began to laugh with her.

"I ruined dinner." He said, his laughing only making Abby laugh harder.

"We…could eat…off the…floor!" She said.

"We have… noodles." John was trying so hard not to laugh but he was also tearing, holding his stomach.

"Noodles!" Abby was rolling on the floor, getting sauce all over herself. John leaned over and licked some sauce off of her cheek.

"You don't have much of this stuff on you for being the one to make all the mess!" Abby kidded, taking a finger full of red stuff and wiping it down John's nose.

"But I got burned, several times. I told you we should have ordered out." John mumbled as Abby began kissing him.

"I'd rather eat in." She purred, climbing on top of him, making him lay flat in all the mess. John was quickly sold to her way of thinking as he kissed back.

"We can't do this here, Abby." He moaned, his hands slipping under her shirt and pulling it off. Abby was kissing his neck while her hands were trying to pull his shirt off, slipping on the sauce.

"I'm having my dinner." She snickered, sliding down the front of his body. John giggled as she pushed his shirt up, spread his stomach with food and licking every inch of it back off.

"As long as you aren't expecting on putting that stuff on my noodle." He joked, her hands expertly slipping his sweatpants down his hips.

"Oh, no noodles down here. Just a sausage." She purred, kissing down John's length that popped up to welcome her to dinner.

"Well, you'd better eat all your dinner, Miss Abigail." John lifted his head, watching her kissing him, loving the feeling.

"Oh, I always eat all my dinner." She winked, looking into his eyes. She brought her mouth down, taking him completely, causing John to gasp.

"Oh, man, if I had known ruining dinner would have done this to you, I'd have started a food fight with you a long time ago." He whispered, gasping for air as Abby continued her feast. Suddenly, he began to feel his orgasm coming way too quickly. "Abby, stop!" He said with such urgency, it stopped her, mid-lick.

"Huh? What, honey? Don't you like dinner?' She asked with a smirk.

"I'm the one who's hungry, remember?" He smiled, pulling her back up along his body, rolling her onto the floor under him. Luckily, Abby was just wearing a pair of thongs, since he'd already gotten her shirt off. He moved his legs between hers, causing her to bring her knees up, spreading her legs for him as he kissed his way down her neck and to her breasts.

"Oh, you'd better be hungry because I am a virtual smorgasbord!" Abby moaned, holding his head against her chest.

"That you are." John smiled against her skin. Abby arched her back up, pushing his head lower.

"Appetizer." She teased. John giggled as he nibbled his way across her skin.

"I love how you've been keeping yourself shaved." He mumbled, pulling her hips up towards his face.

"I know. That's why I do it." Abby purred as he licked her petals.

"You are so wet." He moaned, lapping at her warmth. Abby raised her hips, urging him deeper.

"Not spaghetti sauce, I hope?" She asked, having trouble keeping up her teasing with what he was doing to her.

"Homemade, yes, spaghetti, no. This is a special recipe." John smiled, inserting two of his fingers into her depth, causing Abby to toss her head back, no longer caring about the mess on the floor.

"John, I want the sausage." Abby begged, needing him inside of her.

"Oh, you sure? You ready for the main course? I haven't finished the appetizer yet." He said, trying to sound disappointed but the smile on his face was a dead give-away, that is if Abby could see him. Her eyes were closed, enjoying the sensations.

"Fuck the appetizer, John. Give me the main course." She begged.

"So, I'm not dessert?" He asked, moving back up her stomach with his mouth, his hands spreading her thighs wider.

"Mmm., the main course. I'll figure out dessert later." Abby looked up at him, smiling when she saw the absolute passion in his eyes as he watched her face.

"You are my everything." He whispered, moving himself against her opening, not quite entering quite yet.

"I am." She smiled as he slowly, painfully, agonizingly slowly thrust himself into her body. Abby caught and held her breath until he was finally completely engulfed within her. A low guttural moan escaped John's throat.

"Oh, if all food was this good." He whispered, his lips finding Abby's neck as her hands grasped his hips.

"Everyone would want some." She smiled, thrusting herself up to him and holding his hips against her.

"Reservations only, one table, just for you and you only." John murmured, withdrawing and thrusting in again.

"My own private chef." Abby giggled, trapping John's earlobe between her lips.

"Oh, man." John groaned.

The sounds in the kitchen slowly changed from their light bantering to those only of their breathing, moans, and gasps occasionally breaking their pattern. Hands, lips, tongues, and private parts slapping against one another as their shared desire built. After all the time they'd been friends and the year that they'd been a couple had not diminished their desires for one another. Even when in it simply for the physical exertion, their passion remained immeasurable compared to any of either one's past partners.

"Yes, John. I'm, oh God, yes, yes, like that, yes." Abby mumbled incoherently, unable to form a complete sentence. John couldn't even form words as he concentrated his entire worth on pleasing both of them.

After what felt like an eternity, John's breathing began to come in short gasps, his movements becoming urgent, more directed. Abby tightened herself around him as her fingers dug into his backside, urging him on.

"Oh, John!" Abby gasped, sucking in her breath as her entire body began convulsing, jerking uncontrollably as she gave in to the explosion in her brain. John groaned loudly as his body lost the battle and he began his release.

"Oh, sweet mother of God." He gasped, collapsing on top of her, his entire brain fuzzy. Abby giggled.

"I never knew you were a man of religion." She panted, kissing his sweat covered neck. He chuckled.

"Only when you take me to heaven the way you do." He laughed. He gently picked himself up from her body and began kissing his way down her slick, spaghetti sauce smeared body.

"Hey, where you going?" Abby asked, playfully pouting.

John looked up at her and smiled. "Dessert."
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