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Words of love
Softly spoken
Like clouds above
Drift away
What shall I say?
To let you know the way I feel
Should I cry out loud
that love is real?
Or simply reveal
Forever my love
-- Carly Simon

"Listen, you know what, you take my car. Mark can drop me off later."

"Are you sure?"

"Yup, have fun." He gave her a gentle kiss.

"You, too, Doug. Stay out of trouble," she grinned.


It had been some time since they were together. His relationship and commitment to Carol, along with Mark's unpredictable moods, had made it difficult. But tonight, they had free reign to go out and relax with each other again, and they took advantage of it. Doug and Mark walked into the bar together just as the game was starting.

"Ugh, well that was one long day," Doug groaned as he sat down in a booth.

"Sure was." Mark took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. "Listen, do you wanna bet on the game?"

"Yeah, winner picks up the tab."

"Okay, I got the Bulls," said Mark quickly.

"Oh, that's great. Just great," Doug complained. "I get Cleveland."

The waitress took their order and Doug leaned back and sighed.

Mark looked up at him. "What?"

Doug looked down. "I want to talk to you about this attending thing."

"Yeah, well, that's kinda out of left field, isn't it?" Mark took his drink from the waitress, his eyes on the television.

Doug leaned on the table tapping his fingers. "The thing is, pediatric patients are...they're not getting the attention I think they should. Plus, I want some stability at work. I'm tired of...of Kerry Weaver pulling my chain, of not knowing year-to-year where I'm gonna be."

"Well, Doug," Mark began, "like I said before, there IS no pediatric attending position at the hospital."

Doug took a sip of his drink and pointedly looked at Mark. "And, like I said, maybe there should be."


At Elizabeth's apartment, Carol and Anna returned to the living room giggling. Peter Benton had come to Elizabeth's door and they would never forget the expression on his face when he saw them there.

After a few moments, Elizabeth walked back into the living room to the curious eyes of Carol and Anna. "Well, it seems as though he came to talk."

"Ohhh," said Carol, raising an eyebrow. She exchanged a meaningful glance with Anna. "Do you want us to go?"

"No, he's left."

"Anything going on that we should know about?" Anna asked

Elizabeth smiled ruefully. "Unfortunately, no. Though I'd like there to be. My relationship at home with Jeremy is over, and now, I'm looking again. We've so much in common, Peter and I, and we've become closer; it just seems like the logical next step."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Carol. "Well, sometimes these things take time. Believe me, I know. What about you, Anna?"

"Oh!" she laughed. "Well, there was someone, back in Philly, but..." her voice trailed off. "I don't know, I'm thinking that it's over and it probably is. And right now, I can't really concentrate on anyone else."

"What about Carter?" Carol asked.

"Carter? He's great, we're friends. But I can't think past today. It's possible, but not right now."

Elizabeth nodded. "There are times when it's nice to mull things over, to be by yourself and see where you're at. But, it makes for awfully lonely nights." She looked up and smiled. "Speaking of nights that are most likely NOT lonely, Carol was just about to clue us in on the status of her sex life!"

"Oh, man!" Carol laughed. "Well, what can I tell you?"

"Everything!" yelled Anna.

Carol took a long sip of her drink. "I don't know where to start. He's..." What could she say to convey her feelings about him? "We started seeing each other a few months after he came to County. To say he swept me off my feet would be an understatement! On our first date, he wasn't in the door two minutes before he had me naked on the kitchen floor." She smiled at the memory.

"You're kidding?" exclaimed Anna.

"Dead serious."

Elizabeth grinned, egging her on. "Go on, go on!"

"Well, he was the first guy, and the last, I'd ever been with who makes me really lose myself when we make love." Carol looked at them, laughing. "I can't believe I'm telling you this!"

"Well, then, have another drink!" Anna said.

"I think I will!" Carol leaned over to refill her glass. "You know, he's just so much fun, and he makes you have so much fun, too. There's nothing he won't try. He wears me out."

"He's so good looking. Is he the strong, silent type?" Elizabeth queried.

"Oh, no. Well, strong, yes, but silent would definitely NOT be the word to describe Doug. He's a talker." They all giggled. Becoming serious now, Carol took another sip of her drink and her eyes were soft. Anna and Elizabeth looked at her silently, giving her room to continue.

"Doug is...he's always gentle and loving and considerate. When you're with him, he makes you feel like you're the most beautiful, most desirable woman in the world." Carol looked down at her drink and smiled. "You forget that there are -- or were -- other men in your life. The way he...the things he does...there's nothing he won't do to please me, really. My pleasure is the most important thing to him. I...I love being with him. I love making love to him. The thing is, he's the most exquisite lover. And he's my best friend." She looked up at her friends. "And I'm in love with him."

"Wow," Anna said quietly.

Elizabeth and Anna just stared off into the distance, each of them remembering the loves from their recent pasts. Thinking about their futures.

Elizabeth leaned in. "Are you still planning on getting married?"

"Oh, god!" said Carol, "Give me another drink!"


"Mark, all I'm saying is that I think I'm ready. I can do the job." Doug looked up at Mark, waiting for his response, but Mark was watching the game, distracted.

"Damn, I'm gonna end up paying," Mark said.

"Well, buddy, game's not over yet, but you can't win 'em all.""

"No, well why does it seem like you DO win them all, then?."

"I didn't tell you to take the Bulls."

"It seemed like the logical choice. Well, with this attending thing, let me know if I can help." Mark finished his drink and signaled for another one. "So, how's things on the home front?" Mark asked. "Good, things are good," replied Doug.

"Any talk of getting married know, after last time?

"No, no, no. We don't really talk about that right now."

"Why not?"

Doug bent his head down slightly. "I don't want to push her."

Mark laughed out loud. "Whoa, things sure have changed!"

Doug grinned sheepishly and was about to answer when his beeper went off.

"Oh," Mark ribbed him, "does Carol mind that your beeper is still as active as ever?"

"Very funny, smart ass. I don't even recognize this number. I'll be back."


Finally having gotten Doug's beeper number, she called and paged him. Within five minutes, her phone rang.

"This is Doug Ross, I'm responding to a page."

"Hello, Doug? It's Elizabeth Corday. I'm sorry to bother you, but I think it would be wise if you swung 'round here to pick up Carol."

"Is she okay?"

"Oh, yes, quite fine, actually. It's just she's had a bit too much to drink and I'm afraid to let her drive your car home."

Doug chuckled, thinking of the irony of the situation.

"Hang on -- you got a pen and paper?" he asked the bartender. "Okay, give me the address. Mark'll drop me off."

Doug walked back to the booth. "Hey, we need to leave, I need to go pick up Carol."

"Why?" asked Mark, "I thought she had the car."

"Well, she has the car, she's just in no shape to drive it."


Mark pulled up in front of the building.

"Hey, buddy, thanks. You wanna come in and say hi?" asked Doug.

"Nah, I'm going home, see if I have any money left for food after losing to you again."

Doug chuckled. "See you tomorrow." He walked up to the apartment and rang the doorbell.

"Hello, Doug, do come in."

"Hey, Elizabeth. How you doing?"

"We're all fine. Carol's in the living room. Please, come in." Elizabeth opened the door wide.

Doug walked into the living room and saw Carol sitting on the couch with a drink in her hand. Her face lit up when she saw him. "Hey, Doug!"

He grinned back, secretly enjoying what he was seeing, realizing he'd probably seen her drunk only a handful of times. "Hey, Anna. Nurse Hathaway. How was your evening?"

Carol smiled. "Just fine."

"Hmm," he chuckled. "A little tipsy?"

"Just a little!"

"Um hmm, okay, well, are you ready to go home?"


Doug looked over at Elizabeth and Anna, who were just staring at him. "What? Did I miss something here?"

Anna giggled. "No, Doug, really, nothing at all!" The three women were now laughing.

Doug tilted his head, looking to Carol for an explanation.

"I'll clue you in later, Doug. Much later."

"O-kay. Uh, Anna...need a ride home tonight, too?" he said, raising his eyebrows.

"You know, I'd better. Elizabeth, can you keep my car tonight and pick me up tomorrow?"

"No problem."

Carol tried to stand up, but flopped back down onto the sofa again. Doug chuckled and walked over to help her.

"I can do it, Doug."

"Mmm hmm, okay."

Carol grabbed his arm to pull herself up. "Elizabeth, Anna. Thank you for a perfectly wonderful evening."

"Thanks for *coming*," Elizabeth replied. At this they all doubled up with laughter again.

Doug looked at the three women, nodding his head. "That's it. It's an alien abduction and...and now they've brought me here, right?"

At that, they all lost it and Doug had to escort Carol and Anna to the door. "Goodnight, Elizabeth."


They dropped Anna off at her apartment, Doug waiting to see that she got inside safely. Carol was lying back in the seat, her eyes closed.

Doug looked over at her and laid his hand on her leg. "Knowing you, you musta had a lot to drink to end up drunk. So, didja have a good time?"

"Slow down, you're driving too fast!"

"Carol, I'm going 25. Just sit back and don't get sick." He glanced over again to be sure she was all right.

"Shhh, don't talk so loud. It was really good. Really good. How about you?" Carol was slurring her words, which amused Doug to no end.

"Ah, the Bulls lost, so Mark had to pay. It was okay. I told Mark everything."

"What did he think?"

"Non-committal," Doug shrugged. "You know Mark. I don't expect much at this stage."

"How'd Kerry react today?"

"Indignant as usual." He concentrated on the road, giving her thigh a little squeeze.

"Oh, Doug!" She opened her eyes wide. "Guess who stopped by Elizabeth's tonight?"

"Uh, okay, I'll guess. Peter Benton?"

Carol stared at him. "How'd you know?"

"Carol, it's obvious." He stopped at the light and looked over at her.

"What's obvious?" she asked. "Peter never gets involved with anyone. Remember how surprised we all were about Carla Reese and the baby?"

"Yeah, well before that, it was Jeanie Boulet."

"Get out!" she squealed.

"I'm serious."

"How do you know?"

"I don't know," he shrugged, "I can just tell these things."


He parked the car and helped her up the steps and into the house. "What time do you work tomorrow?" he asked her.

"Three to eleven."

"Good. Let's get your clothes off and get you into bed." Doug steered her to the bedroom and helped remove her clothes.

Carol looked up at him. "Doug, I want you tonight."

Doug laid her down on the bed and sat next to her, smiling warmly. "I don't think that's a good idea. Just go to bed so you can sleep this off."

"I don't wanna." Carol pulled him closer and covered his mouth with hers. He responded quickly, holding her face in his hands, letting her body mold to him.

"Mmm, you taste good, what were you drinking?"


He bent down to kiss her again. "Carol," he whispered, teasing her, "you're drunk. I don't want to take advantage of you in this state."

She reached down and could feel his hardness through his pants.

"You don't want to? Then what's this?" she grinned and began pulling off his shirt. She left his mouth and kissed his face, feeling the roughness of his stubble on her lips. His neck, down to his chest as her hands undid his pants.

"Mmm, Doug, I want you to take advantage of me."

"You don't have to do this tonight."

"Shhh..." she said. His pants were off now and she parted the fly in his boxer shorts to find his rigid penis. She ran her hands over it and her mouth sought him. Pulling his boxers off, she started rubbing her lips gently along the head. With great satisfaction, she heard him sigh as he placed his hand on her cheek. Ever so gently, she ran her tongue from the base to the head, feeling it grow larger.

"Oh..." he sighed as he watched her. "Have I ever told you that I love this?"

"Several times."

"Then, let me do it to you, too."

She shifted her body so it was over him, and as her lips surrounded him, he pulled her close to his. They were both lost in the moment, exploring each other with their mouths. Doug held her and began slowly. Her hips started to move and she stopped pleasing him for a moment, and concentrated on her own enjoyment. He held her thighs apart and sucked on her delicate skin and she tensed and moaned and then she came, her body trembling, awash in sensation, her voice hoarse with pleasure. He loved doing this, loved watching her.

"Doug, that felt so good," she purred quietly.

"C'mere," he said, smiling.

Carol turned around to face him and kissed him deeply. Doug rolled her over so he was on top and then he was inside of her, moving slowly, closing his eyes, enjoying the feeling of her body against his. She held him tightly, relishing the strength of his chest against her breasts. He looked down at her face and now moved faster, seeking to relieve his tension, venturing deeper and deeper each time he thrust into her.

"You feel warm...ripe. I love you, Carol."

Wanting him totally, she pulled him even deeper inside of her as she felt him come, stroking his back, wanting to hold on forever.

Doug, wet with sweat and breathing hard, kissed her gently. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

He looked down at her tenderly. Those words came far too infrequently for him, and he cherished hearing them.


Afterwards, as he pulled her close to him, idly playing with her hair, he remembered the insane outbursts of laughter earlier in the evening. "So, my little lush, what was goin' on at Elizabeth's tonight?"

Carol remembered what she had said earlier in the evening and immediately regretted it. "Oh, god, Doug, you don't wanna know."

"Try me."

"We were talking about sex."


"Actually, I was talking about sex. About sex with you."

Doug looked down at her quickly. "You're kidding."

Sinking deeper into his chest, she murmured, "I wish."

"You mean, women sit at around and talk about their sex lives?"

"No. About my sex life. And yours. Does that surprise you?"

"Well, I guess, a little...." Doug smirked at her, mischief all over his face. "Okay, so...what'd you tell them."

"You really want to know?" she grinned.

"Lay it on me."

She got up and bent over him, kissing his face slowly as she spoke. "I told them that you were a wonderful lover and that you always took care of me and looked to my pleasure first. That I love making love to you. That you were the only lover I've ever had that I truly...." She stopped and he looked at her expectantly, and so she continued. "That I have ever truly loved. Doug, I can't believe sometimes that you're here with me, that you're mine. You mean everything to me and you make me so happy. I am so happy with you, right now."

Doug gazed at her, touched to hear these words from her, to hear things they never really discussed.

Moving away slightly, lowering her eyelids, she cautiously asked him, "Do you feel that way about me, too?"

Doug took her face in his hands. "Carol, come here, look at me. Yes, I do. I'm in love with you. I know I don't...I can't always say things, the way I feel. But I love you. I want to be with you. I want this... you... forever."

Tears sprang quickly to her eyes and she nuzzled into his neck. "Oh..." and she started crying, overwhelmed with happiness at his words.

"Shh, it's okay. I know." Tucking her into the crook of his neck, knowing how difficult it was for her to say these things, he was so satisfied with what she revealed tonight.


She felt awful the next morning when he walked in. He, on the other hand, felt and looked wonderful; showered and dressed, he was holding juice and aspirin for her. "Good morning," he said in a quiet voice, warmth in his eyes. "How're you doin'?"

"Oh, you can imagine."

"Here, take these. And drink plenty of water today, before work."

Taking the aspirin with a swallow of juice, she looked up at him, squinting from the daylight filtering in. "Doug?"


"Did you mean what you said last night? About us?"

He sat down on the bed and brushed her hair away from her face. "Yes, I did. Every word."

"Even when we're old and gray?"

"I have some gray hair now." His eyes twinkled.

Carol took him in her arms and pulled him close. "I like your gray hair. Will you love me even when I'm 75 and I need a walker?"

"Well, he said, grinning, "when we're old, we'll have make sure we don't mix up our false teeth...." He kissed her softly. "...take each other's blood pressure...." Nuzzling his nose to her, he smiled. "...line up our walkers just so."

"Kiss me again, old man."

" pleasure."

The End

Yesterday's projection will never really know
But tomorrow's recollection will surely show
It was so
Between us
Ain't no other way
Time has seen us
Day after day
What shall I say?
That isn't in the way I act
That will carry through the years intact
I'm lookin' forward to lookin' back
From further in down the track
Together in fact
Forever my love, my love