An ER fanfic that takes place following the "Bishop Stewart" Arc
He had needed the time away...a chance to deal with issues he'd buried and never really faced. It had been almost 10 years since he had lost Danijela and the children and still he could barely manage to talk about them without feeling as if his heart was being ripped from his chest. The hours he'd spent with the Bishop had forced him to face the demons he'd hidden away within himself..but the time off had allowed him to truly grieve their losses and maybe to finally put them behind him. As he entered the hospital for the first time in a month he felt like he was beginning life anew...and maybe he was.
He nodded to Malik as he passed on his way into the lounge...he hadn't spoken to anyone since he'd been gone...and he couldn't help wondering if that might make his return a bit strained. At the time he had felt it was the only way for him to get through everything...the Bishop had given him back his faith....and in a way his family as well...but it had taken a month of solitude for him to really realize that. He hung his bag in the locker and pulled out the white jacket...no..he'd needed to do this on his own. Almost as an afterthought he opened the bag and pulled the copy of the worn photo out and stuck it into the edging of the metal door. With a sigh he traced his finger across the two images and wished he'd had a reminder of Marko as well...no..he rubbed his hand across his face then reached for the stethoscope and hung it around his neck. He wasn't going to dwell on their loss...he closed the locker and headed for the door.
With no sign of anyone to run the board with and a surprising lull in new patients, Luka grabbed the stack of end of shift discharge files and carried them to the Doctor's Lounge. Dropping the pile on the table he pulled a chair out and lowered himself into it as he reached for the top folder. The least he could do was help sign off on some of the resident's charts as he waited he thought as he flipped it open. Resting his elbow on the table he propped his head on his forefinger and thumb, idly sucking on the tip of his ringfinger as he read. The work was tedious but he knew as well as any attending that any mistakes would come back on them, so it was mandatory they review them. He signed off on the chart and closed it, setting it aside before reaching for the next. He was barely halfway through the stack when the door opened and Malik stuck his head inside.
"Dr. Kovac, paramedics are coming in with a 14 year old, bike versus truck, can you take it?" Luka finished signing the chart and nodded, "Sure...let me drop these back at the desk and I'll be right there..."
As he stepped out of the Emergency Room doors Luka was immediately thrust into the organized chaos that marked the arrival of an ambulance..several nurses waited for his instructions and he motioned Malik forward as he approached the doors. "What do we have?" He called to the paramedic as soon as the doors swung clear..."Unresponsive 14 year old male ..bike versus truck..possible skull fracture..broken right femur.." The paramedic continued to recite the extent of her findings as Kovac evaluated his condition. As they wheeled him into Trauma One he had already begun to order the tests he needed and now shifted his attention to stabilizing the boy for surgery.
It took over three hours for those attending him to bring the boy anywhere close to where he could be taken to surgery and as they wheeled his out Luka pulled the bloody gloves and gown off and tossed them in the bin. The boy had gone sour twice and both times Kovac had managed to bring him back, but the strain the efforts had taken were showing on him..he wearily rubbed his eyes..then lowered his hand as Haleh spoke..."I'm sorry?" He rolled his shoulders in a failed attempt to loosen the stiffness that had settled into them. "The boy's family are in the waiting room..can you talk to them?" He ran his hand back through his hair..."Sure...what was the last name? " Haleh looked at the notes..."Kessler." Nodding Luka headed out of the room...the boy's condition was grave and there was no guarantee that he would even make it out of the OR alive..this was not the kind of news he wanted to bring to the expectant relatives.
Haleh stayed with him until she could point the family out then headed for the Nurses Station and he slowed to try and gauge what he might be facing with them. The fact that they all stood in a half circle around an older man..probably a Grandfather said much...but as he got closer he head something that chilled him in a way he could not have anticipated. He stopped in mid stride..cocking his head to see if he had heard what he thought he had...he felt his stomach seize..there was no mistaking it now..the family was speaking in a Serbian dialect. He looked to see if they had noticed him then turned and headed towards the outer Emergency Room doors.
As he cleared the doors he doubled over, trying to find air that suddenly seemed not to be there...in his mind he knew he was hyperventilating, but that did nothing to ease the panic he felt. Serbs...his mind whirled as he tried to calm the irrational panic...he'd thought he would never have to hear the language again...and now he had fought to keep one alive. He straightened and let his gaze move to the sky...he closed his eyes..willing himself to relax, only to see the bodies of Danijela and the children...no. He shook his head and started across the drive...
It wasn't until he cleared the stairs and was comforted by the sound of the passing train that Luka realized that his flight had taken him to the el tracks...what would they think had happened to him? He took a seat on the bench of the empty platform and let his head drop into his hands...massaging his eyes with the heels. Why did this have to happen today? He had spent the last month putting these demons to rest only to, in one stark moment, have them forced back into his thoughts. He sat back leaning his head on the railing behind him his mind returning to his past...
<Croatian> "You should get out of the City while you still can..." He heard the Chief's voice as clearly as he had the last day he saw him. "I can't leave them.." He sipped at the tepid liquid that had replaced the coffee they could no longer come by. "Luka...you are alive..they are not...you are still young..go while you can." The man persisted..then turned at the sound of yelling in the halls which caused both men to hurriedly rise..."They're coming...they're coming..the Serbs..." The orderly almost knocked them down as he made his way through the halls, alerting those still in the hospital. "Luka..go..there is no time to waste..you are young..if they find you they will kill you." The man pushed him "I can't leave you.."He protested...but the man shook his head.."I have to stay..for the patients..I'm old..I'll be fine..now hurry..go to the basement..and out that way..before you are seen..go!" He practically pushed Luka down the hall towards the stairs. "Luka..if you hear anyone..find a place and hide..promise me." He fixed his eyes on the younger man until he nodded. "I promise..." Reluctantly he opened the door and moved to join the others who were already making their way down..
Luka struggled to keep the tenuous hold he had on what was real as the scene before him morphed with images of Vukovar. As he fled the platform for the presumed, safety of the streets he continued to be bombarded by the scenes of destruction...he clamped his hands to his ears in a failed attempt to muffle the screams of the injured and dying he saw around him. As he rounded a corner into an alley he stopped, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. <Croatian>"None of you are real!" He shouted to the sky in hopes that that might end the horrors before him, then covered his face with his hands as he tried to avoid the reminders. To his relief, as he lowered his hands the alley's appearance shifted...the bombed buildings now replaced by those reflecting the neglect that was their normal state.
He leaned against the dirty brick wall, allowing himself time to regain his hold on his sanity. That simply hearing their language could have triggered this worried him more then he was ready to admit. Inwardly he prayed that he would wake to find this no more then a bad dream...to find that he had simply fallen asleep and he would wake to find himself back at the hospital. But the sounds of the traffic told him otherwise...it had happened...when his breathing had regained some semblance to normal he pushed himself off the wall..then frowned. Where was he? He walked to the corner and stopped..his gaze traveling down the street, he shook his head in confusion then looked up as a train passed on the tracks overhead. It was a start..he made his way to the stairs...
He could feel the panic in the other men as they raced down the stairs in hopes of getting out of the hospital before the soldiers came...they had all heard the stories...all believed it could never happen to them..but what if they were wrong? No...it was a hospital...surely that would insure the safety of those inside. As he hit the ground floor there was a back-up of men..someone had to open the door and look...he forced his way to the front of them..then eased the door open a crack. Nothing that he could see, he bit his lip...and slid around the door..hugging the wall as he inched his way to the corner...and then he saw them..they were coming..he could see the trucks rounding the corner not two blocks away. He turned and dashed back to the doorway. <Croatian> We have to go now...they are just down the street." He didn't wait to see if they would follow..he could only think of himself now...he glanced up at the window... hoping for a glimpse of the man who had been his mentor...but he saw no one. He peeled the white coat off as he ran...tossing it behind some debris...and as the rumble of approaching trucks grew closer he ducked into a bombed out building..digging through the rubble as he looked for someway to conceal himself. His breathing was ragged from the strain but he knew he couldn't stop..he grabbed at anything in his way..tossing it aside until miraculously he found a small pocket barely large enough to hold him... drawing a deep breath he wedged himself into it then pulled a section of wallboard over the opening...all he could do now was wait...
"Hey..you ok? You need a Doctor or something?" The old woman shook his shoulder, making him jump...as he was thrust back into the present..and he rubbed his hand across his face as he collected himself. "No..I am a Doctor.." He shook his head..inwardly praying she would just go away...then looked around, trying to gain some bearing a to where he was again. "You don't look so good..you sure you don't want me to call someone?" She leaned her wrinkled face into his as if trying to look inside him. "I'm sure...please..leave me alone." He stood..moving down the platform away from her...he had to get away..but where could he go?
to be continued...