John "Here Comes the Twelvestepper" Carter strolls into a bright hallway outside a meeting room somewhere. Public library? Unitarian church? Community rec centre? Progressive gay bar? I don't know, call it. Some bald dude wanders in, struggling with a huge coffee urn and a few packaged store-bought pastries; Carter relieves him of the pastries and asks whether he's found the AA meeting. Coffee Dude snorts, "How'd you guess?" and introduces himself as Brant. Shouldn't everyone be chain-smoking? Brant carries the coffee into the actual meeting room, where a woman at the podium has just started reading off the twelve steps. Blah blah, recovering alcoholics drink a lot of coffee, blah blah blah clichécakes. Brant asks whether it's Carter's first time at a meeting, and Carter says, "Here? Yeah." Brant tells him, "It's a good group." Carter finds a seat and glances around. He spots a woman tucking her bobbed brown hair behind her ear. He fixes on her, and after a moment he catches her eye: it's Abby "Lisa" Lockhart. She smiles sadly, and looks down. Carter smiles back. You know who should really be looking to hook up? Someone in recovery. And you know who'd make a really great choice as a partner? Someone else in recovery. Except, not.
In the lobby, Doris begs Kerry "Basket" Weaver to take a patient off her hands since he's "driving [her] crazy." "Same here," grunts a gravelly voice. That's right. Mr. Fletcher's back. He's having problems with his shunt because he missed dialysis again. "Only one day late, huh?" says Weaver by way of small talk. "You? No, not you," protests Mr. Fletcher. Doris somehow intuits that Weaver knows Mr. Fletcher. As Weaver is telling Doris that he's one of County's regulars, her beeper goes off, and she asks Cleo "DiCrapio" Finch to take him. Cleo reluctantly makes for Mr. Fletcher's gurney and notes, "I see you called 911 again." Mr. Fletcher says that they're faster than the El. Weaver crutches into a curtain area where Mark is checking a patient's legs. She asks Mark if he's ready and Mark says he'll be a minute. Weaver sheepishly says, "I don't want to keep him waiting." Mark tells her again that he'll be a minute.
Upstairs, the "him" they're discussing -- yes, Carter -- is wearing a natty dark grey suit and sitting in a waiting room. We hear the voice of Peter "Pup" Benton before we see him; he's droning orders at Shirley. As he prepares to head into his office, with Reese in tow, Carter stands and firmly says, "Dr. Benton." Benton greets him warmly and asks what Carter's doing there. Carter quietly replies, "I have a meeting," and Benton, suddenly remembering what it's about, says, "Oh. Right." Carter says hi to Shirley, who returns the greeting. Last-minute admincakes, and Shirley books, but not before telling Carter it's good to see him again. Carter congratulates Benton on his new position. Benton thanks him perfunctorily and tells Carter he's looking good. Carter self-deprecates, "I couldn't look much worse than the last time you saw me," and waves at Reese, commenting on how big he is (which he is! Aw, Reese). Carter sits back down, attempting to end the awkward moment. Benton says he'll see Carter later, and Carter smirks, "I don't know. Maybe. We'll see!" Benton says, "Aaagghgh," in a "you've got it sewn up" voice, and wishes him luck. Carter stares straight ahead, nervously tapping each of his fingers in turn against his thumb.