by symphonyflute
Rating: G
Fandom: ER
Disclaimer: I don't own ER
Spoilers: Season 3, but before Dennis Gant's incident

"Good morning Dr. Benton," Dr John Carter greeted, walking into the washroom to scrub up for surgery. He was assisting Dr. Benton in repairing a perforated appendix.

"Morning Carter," replied Benton, glancing up. "You look like hell."

"Yeah, well I've been on since yesterday morning. I'm exhausted." Benton, finish cleaning his hands, held them out for a nurse to put surgical gloves on. Suddenly, Carter paused in his scrubbing and sneezed loudly into his cupped hands. "heeschoo!" He rinsed the soap off his hands, "great, now I have to start over. He reached for a new scrub brush pointedly not looking at the smirking Benton. But no sooner had he began scrubbing his hands again, he felt another tickle in his nose. Knowing Benton was still there, he tried to hide his predicament. This proved to be easier said than done, as his nostrils flared and his breath caught. "Hehh...ehh..."

"Carter? Benton took a step toward him. "Why did you stop scrubbing? Stop screwing around."

"HEESCHOO!" Carter couldn't hold it back any longer. He sighed in frustration at having to start again. Before he could even open the brush, though, Benton asked the nurse to page Dennis Gant, Carter's fellow surgical intern. Carter gave him a questioning look. "Since when does it take three people to fix a perf?"

"It doesn't," Benton told him in his usual no-nonsense tone. "Gant is joining me in the OR and you are covering the ER in his place." Carter made to argue, but Benton broke him off, "Do not argue with me Carter. You are ill and a risk to surgical patients."

"I'm not ill," Carter argued, before sneezing explosively again. "ACHOO" He glared at Benton for a minute before stomping out of the room and down to the ER. "Hey Dennis," he called, spotting his friend doing charts at the admit desk. "Go up to the OR."

"Are you serious?" he asked excitedly.

Carter sighed resignedly. "Yup, I'm taking over the ER for you."

"Sweet!" Gant jumped up and pumped his fist in the air.

"I've never seen anyone so excited to be with Benton," Carter chuckled.

"Well I have 24 charts to do and more keep coming," Gant told him. "Now I believe they're yours. Enjoy."

Carter plopped down in the swivel chair Gant had vacated and picked up a pen. "Great, just gre-gre-ACHOO!" He sniffed wetly. "Great."

Gant grinned and started to the elevators. Carter pulled a chart closer to himself to start on it.

It became painstakingly clear to Carter why Gant had been happy to leave the charts behind. He had been working for an hour and was only a third finished. He pulled chart #9 up and put his pen to it, before dropping his pen again and grabbing a tissue from the box Jerry had found him after he had sneezed for the "gazillionth time", as Jerry had put it. He put the Tissue up to his face and sneezed into it twice. "etchh! Exxtch" He crumbled up the tissues and tossed them into the trashcan before retrieving his pen.

BEEP!! BEEP!! BEEP!! Carter jumped in surprise as his beeper went off. He checked it, it was the ER. They needed a surgical consult. He ran toward the exam rooms, looking around. He aw Susan Lewis gesturing at him to come into exam 1. He did, and she gave him the bullet. "34 year old female, lower quadrant pain, belly extended and nontender." carter gave him a quick check over and deemed him as nonsurgical. "Thank, Carter," she said. "By the way, do you realize you look like hell?"

"That seems to be the genera consensus," he replied as his beeper went off again. He quickly went to trauma 2 where there was a 17 year old boy with a bullet to the abdomen. The boy, a gang banger named Tyrone, did need surgery. They stabilized him and Carter took him up. On the surgical floor, he ran into Benton, who took the patient from him.

As Carter turned to head back down, Benton called after him. "Hey Carter?" He turned again to face his former teacher. "I want those charts in an hour." And with that, went to scrub in.

His hour was half up, and he had only completed about 65% the charts. Normally, that would have been making good time, but nothing was good enough for Benton. He finished up with the chart he was working on, and pulled up another one up. That was when the paramedics came rushing in with a gurney. Not being able to see the person on the gurney from his sitting position, Carter decided to stay put. He needed to finish the charts. After all, maybe the patient wouldn't need a consult.

"Dr. Carter get in here," ordered Dr. Mark Greene. Carter sighed, threw his pen down, and hurried over. The patient, an elderly woman who couldn't remember her name, had been hit by a car as she stood in the middle of the street singing. "Alright, I want 10 mgs of haladol," Dr. Green told the nurse. He turned to Carter. "What do you think?"

Carter finished his examination. "She's bleeding into her abdomen."

"Surgery, then?"

Carter nodded. "Can someone else take her up? I have a ton of charts to finish." A nurse came, gave him a dirty look for making her do his job, and began pushing the gurney toward the elevator. "Thanks," he called after her.

"How many charts do you have left?" Dr. Green asked.

"ETTSCHUU!!" He sneezed violently in response.

"I see," Mark joked, "so you're almost finished?"

Carter shook his head. "Not even close."

"I'll give you a hand," Mark offered. "I'm on lunch."

"You don't have to give up your lunch for me," Carter told him. "I can handle them on my own. Go get something to eat."

Mark pulled a granola bar out of his lab coat pocket and held it up for Carter to see. "I've got two, do you want one?" Carter shook his head. "Are you sure?" Carter nodded. Hunger wasn't his dominant feeling right now. That would be the urge to sneeze. His eyes squinted shut and his nose twitched, but he couldn't sneeze.

Mark looked at him with concern. "Are you OK?" he asked.

"I ha-ha-have to sneeeeze," Carter choked out.

"Go ahead," Mark told him

"Can't," was the desperate reply.

"Oh," Mark looked thoughtful for a minute. "Look up at the light."

Carter did so and immediately snapped forward with a forceful sneeze. "ETTSCHOO!"

"Bless you," Mark told him, holding out his second granola bar. "Now let's get started on those charts."

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