I'll Be Home For Christmas

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Heathen: B | Grade It Now!
I'll Be Home For Christmas

Carter examines Lea elsewhere; she claims she's never fainted before, then waves merrily at the enormous gaggle of people clogging the waiting room. Each person is part of her family -- cousins, siblings, nieces, nephews. She puts on a happy face. Benton approaches to share that Ben's blood count is stable, and that his first CT shows only minor injuries. Lea blahs about her son's upcoming band concert, during which time Carter feels her neck and finds a swollen lymph node. "I know I'm sick," she confesses, sharing that she has lymphoma. Carter and Benton both look taken aback, doing a very poor job indeed of hiding the fact that lovely Lea's a total goner. She brightens and looks at her family. "Don't tell them, though," she begs. "There will be plenty of time to talk after Christmas." It feels like TPTB are setting us up for more on her story in a later episode, although if they're just going to kill off Lea without letting her sing, that will blow mightily. Roma beeps Benton, and Carter waves him away, promising to call another surgeon.

Across the ER, Luka stitches up the hand of a man who got caught shoplifting two pairs of skates for his children. Abby is with Luka. The man relays that the security guard jumped him in front of his children, one of whom is holding her father's hand; the other is passed out on a chair. The girl does her best wounded-little-angel voice, asking Daddy if they get to keep the skates. "No," he says. He turns to Luka. "They hate getting used stuff," he pouts. That's why he Neecoled them some skates. Luka feels this deeply. He has a major jones for thieves. Luka establishes that the children are motherless and have nowhere to stay once the cops take the father into custody. He excuses himself, and grabs Abby. "Are you gonna be in jail for Christmas?" the girl sing-songs, in the most pathetic way possible. "I don't know," Thief With the Heart of Gold says. Paging Stan! I have a family for you! Where is he? I guess this Touching ER Moment is the Stan of the second half-hour. They kind of ditched all the medical stories from the first part; maybe they weren't working and TPTB wanted a clean slate.

In the hall, Luka whispers that he wants to post the man's bail because the family has no money and lives in a motel room. "He probably can't pay a security deposit," Abby observes. Luka says the dad has a $5.15-per-hour job. Yow. Abby suggests calling the food bank, but Luka figures it's an imperfect solution, and would rather just post bail for the man. Maybe Moneybags over here should buy the skates for the two moppets and call it a full Christmas miracle. Oh, please dress him up in a Santa suit. "There's only so much you can do," Abby warns him gently. Luka stares at the ground, frustrated. He breathes heavily. "I just, uh..." he begins, unable to look at her. "Miss your kids?" she supplies, kindly. Luka picks at his fingers and tries not to cry. The muscles in his jaw tighten. Abby takes his hand sympathetically. "It's sort of worse at Christmas," he murmurs with a joyless half-smile. He rubs her hand, grateful for the human contact. It's a really sweet moment, and Goran Visnjic played it well. I'm kind of choked for him. Luka strolls away sadly, leaving Abby to stare after him AGAIN. She is going to stare herself blind.

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