Monday, June 13, 2005

Ghosts 12/37

Chapter 12

An ER fanfic that takes place following the "Bishop Stewart" Arc

She couldn't leave him...not like this, so instead Abby moved to sit on the bed, cradling Luka's head in her lap once she was settled.  How long had it been?  She'd long ago stopped looking at the clock aware that each fall of his chest seemed to her an eternity in itself and not needing that as a confirmation.  He was like ice now...his face almost devoid of color.  As she stroked his hair Abby found herself whispering nonsense to him.  Crooning to him as she might have a child, in hopes he would hear her and wake, offering a smile at her actions, and chasing her fears away as so much foolishness. She'd given up trying to hold back the tears and they fell freely now, dampening her cheeks so she no longer wiped them away.  As much as she would like to admit otherwise, she was scared...scared for Luka...scared for herself.  He was supposed to be the strong one...he was the one who took care of everything...what was she supposed to do?  What if he never found his way back from wherever he had gone? What if she was left without him? "Luka.... please... come back...."

Luka number 176392, here it was.  Father Joe pulled the sheaf of papers from the middle of the third folder, well aware of what he held in his hands.  He had been a priest long enough to have known others like the young doctor, men and women who's entire lives had been changed by war.  There was always more to it then that, some came alone, other came with familles intact...far too many bearing only  remnants of their old lives.  However they came they all bore the scars of what they had endured...the violence...the death.  Not all of their pain was physical and though those wounds might heal others would remain for the rest of their lives.  He had seen them try to bury it, to move on, discarding it like it were no more then a torn shirt, but it always returned.  Sometimes in dreams..sometimes in actions, a word here, a glimpse of someone who unleashed a reminder.  Many would find the help they needed... others... would lose themselves and he couldn't quite shake the fear that the young doctor might be one of those.  He had seen the pain in the man's eyes...the fear..there was no doubt in his mind that his past had returned to haunt him.  The Priest laythe balance of the folder aside as he rose and carried the sheaf of papers that held the secrets the young doctor concealed across the room to the couch.  He held the man's past in his hands and the importance of that was not lost on him.  For the Bishop...he had to keep reminding was for him he had to know.  He settled against the corner of the couch and dropped his eyes to the papers, registering the fact that it was heavier then most before he began to read...

Case number 176392...Kovac, Luka...male...age: 25...widower...wife: Danijela, age: 23, deceased...daughter: Jasna, age: 5, deceased...son: Marko, age: 18 months, of origin: Vukovar

He paused to cross himself, the prayer coming without thought as he ran his finger across the entry..."In the name of the Father,"  He crossed himself again.  "and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  Bless us, O Lord, and preserve us from all evil, and bring us to eternal life; and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen"  There was little more he could do for them, they were in his hands, all save one, he dropped his eyes to the papers again and continued reading.

The truck rumbled slowly down the pitted road, the headlights cutting through the remaining morning fog.  The night's chill was still with them and both men could see their breath as they spoke..the heater, while on, barely seeming to make a difference.  Though their vehicle was clearly marked with the cross proclaiming them no threat the driver and his passenger still found themselves watching the roadside warily.  They had heard of isolated attacks, soldiers needing vehicles..or looking for those they tried to carry to safety despite being told not to.  The rain had left the road muddy and almost eerily empty, and both knew that it was that which they didn't see that they should most fear.  

"Stop the truck..stop the truck!"  Rene Vachon had been working for the International Red Cross Relief agency for less then 3 months, his companion Andre Renou had been with them over a year.  "Back up, the the ditch...see it?" He searched for the glimpse of fabric that had caught his eye.  "What is it?"  The driver brought the truck to a halt and with agrinding of gears slid it into park as he followed Rene's gaze.  "Is it a body?"  The younger man asked unsteadily as he swallowed the wave of nausea that rose without warning.  "I think so, come on...we have to check." The older man climbed from the truck, they'd found too many bodies lately.  "I don't think he's been here long..."  Even as he spoke the younger man had approached the body and crouched next to him..placing a hand on his shoulder to turn the body so they could see his face.  "Jesus and Mary, Holy Mother of God..."  The man almost fell backwards into the water that filled the ditch. "He's still alive."

He could hear the baby crying...he'd forgotten what it was like...with a sigh he rolled over towards his wife.  "Danijela....the baby."  He barely opened his eyes...his hand finding her as he tried to cling to the remnants of sleep.  The fatigue of almost 48 hours on duty had drained him and even the child's cries of hunger were not enough to fully rouse him.  "Want me to get him?"  He asked the question knowing the answer before it was spoken. "No....go back to sleep...I'll get him before he wakes Jasna."  He smiled as her lips brushed his then closed his eyes, snuggling deeper under the goose comforter as she tucked it around him.  

If she wanted him to sleep why was she pulling on him? He didn't want to leave the warmth of the bedding...he wanted to sleep, she'd said he could sleep, why did she want him awake now?  He tried to ignore the hands that pulled at him...."You said I could sleep..." He murmured the words in Croatian...not registering that he was anywhere but where his mind saw him being.

"What was that...did he say something?"  Rene moved closer to help Andre pull the man from the water..."I can't understand him, I don't speak Croatian...I think that's what it is.  He's almost frozen though...I don't think he even knows we're me turn him over ...careful...his pantleg is soaked with blood."  The older man continued to talk as they worked, hoping to distract the younger from the other things he'd already noticed, among them the smell of death that clung heavily to the man's clothes. "How long you think he's been here?"  They had managed to get Luka turned onto his back and Andre had begun to access his injuries.  "The leg looks bad...can't say how long ago it happened but it's swollen...probably infected...from the sound of his breathing I'd guess he's working on a case of pneumonia as well.  We better get him back to the camp..let the docs see if he stands a chance...but I would say it doesn't look good" 

to be continued...

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