Immediately outside the operating room, Benton shares that Teddy lost a lot of blood, but they did repair the bullet damage and he's going to survive the incident. "I don't know how to thank you," she breathes shakily. "Well...Just get the gun out of your house," Benton PSAs. Oh, quit moralizing, you perjurer.
Slow piano music backs Benton's last stroll out of the OR area. He signs the chart with a flourish, a dramatic final swipe of the pen, and rubs his neck with a happy, peaceful expression. He turns to watch Elizabeth sew up Teddy, his face a cocktail of emotions, and then finally wheels around to traverse the long hallway leading to the elevator. He removes his cap tiredly and tosses it into the garbage. He struts past Romano, who glares at him, arms crossed tightly across his chest. And he impassively presses the "down" button, pausing for one last sideways glance at Romano. There's no regret in his eyes. Romano looks stern; as soon as Peter steps out of sight, Romano allows a respectful, almost affectionate smile to flit across his lips. Shaking his head, Romano retreats into his office. The Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.
On Christmas Day, Benton goes for a jog along the lake. It's a crystal-clear day in Chicago. "I guess Santa didn't buy you that bike you asked for," a voice says. Benton stops and spies Carter sitting on a bench. Apparently, Cleo told him how to find his mentor. "Want to join me?" teases Benton. Carter declines enthusiastically. Ha. Me too, Carter. Ruefully, Carter asks if there's any way to talk Benton out of leaving. "Nah, it's a done deal," he nods. Awkwardly, Carter hands a tiny gift-wrapped box to Benton, who rolls his eyes. "You're tough to shop for," Carter grins. Benton lifts off the lid to reveal a single El token. He's confused. Carter recalls one night in the second week of his surgical internship, on which they had eleven trauma patients in one night, working well past 5 AM the next day. "I was so tired, I couldn't see straight, and I asked if I could take a break," Carter remembers. "You kicked me out of the OR." Benton smiles slightly. Carter relates that he sat down and cried in the hall, too tired even to drive home. "You came out of surgery, handed me that, and said I could use it to go home, or I could commit to what I was doing and use it to come back the next day," Carter finishes. Benton picks up the token and fingers it delicately, amazed that Carter kept it. "No Rolex, huh?" he jokes. Carter laughs, but his face is turning pink, because he knows this is about to be Goodbye. He says he figures Peter can use it to come back when he gets tired of Schaumberg. "Carter, they don't use tokens anymore," Benton smirks. "Then call," chokes Carter. "I'll come pick you up." He looks down at the ground, unable to control the swelling lump in his...THROAT, people. Throat. Tentatively, Carter starts to thank Peter for everything. "I know," Benton interrupts. "I owe you," Carter insists, sniffling. Summoning all his courage, Carter moves in for the bear hug he's always wanted from Benton. He throws his arms around him and clasps tightly. And just when I think Benton might give in to the moment, he stays in character and looks totally uncomfortable, lifting his arms gingerly to pat Carter firmly on the back. Ha. I'm teary, but I'm laughing. "Carter," he sighs, exasperated. They break the hug. "I'm getting cold. Better move on," Benton metas for the millionth time this hour. They wish each other a Merry Christmas, and Benton jogs away. "Hey Peter?" Carter calls. Benton stops, surprised. Aw, he called him "Peter." "I'm a good doctor because of you," Carter says. Benton looks appreciative, but it quickly gives way to a chuckle. "No, you're not," he beams. "But keep trying." And with that, Benton disappears from Carter's life, and our last shot is of his face against a dazzling blue Chicago sky.