Friday, June 17, 2005

Ghosts 17/37

Chapter 17

An ER Fanfic set following the "Bishop Stewart" arc

Luka glanced down at Abby's hand, his fingers laced with her own, unable to meet her eyes.  What was he supposed to tell her?  He wet his lips nervously, did she expect him to say he thought he was going insane?  Was he supposed to tell her that he had begun to lose himself in his past so often that there were times when he didn't even know where he was?  How could he do that?  He lifted his free hand, rubbing it across the stubble on his unshaved face before raising his eyes to hers.  Her concern was etched clearly on her face, the dark circles under her eyes, evidence of the sleepless night just passed.  

"Luka, talk to me."  She brought her own hand up to touch his cheek with a hesitancy that almost made her action seem to happen in slow motion.  "Don't shut me out, Luka."  Why did she have to touch him?  He closed his eyes, focussing on the sensation of her touch, then opened them again only to find her eyes locked on his.  "Abby..."  He shook his head, unable to find the words.  "I can't yet...I need...I have to have...more time."  He brushed away the tears he knew he was on the verge of shedding, praying inwardly that she would understand and allow him the time he needed.

"Oh, Luka.."  Angelique lay her hand on the young man in the photograph. How long had it been since she had thought about those days?  Ten years since he had entered her life, and at least five since she had lost touch with him.  She had known even then that he would eventually drift away from her, they always did.  She was a reminder of all of those things they needed to forget and for them to heal they needed that distance.  She leaned back against the couch, hugging the picture to her as one of the memories struggled to surface.

"Dr. Forquet...we have a job to do and part of that job is to debrief everyone that comes through here."  The Sergeant's mouth settled into a pronounced scowl as he argued the point with the woman who blocked his entrance.  "We gave you the week you asked for, but the time is up and I have work to do."  Even as she brushed the loose strand of hair from her face Angelique knew the argument was lost, she'd protected his privacy as long as she could. "Fine. At least give me fifteen minutes to make sure he's awake, I'm warning you though, if I think he's had too much I will stop you."  The expression on her face made it all too clear that she was serious and the man knew better then to argue with her, receiving his nod of acceptance to her terms she turned and entered the tent.

It had been easier when he was lost to the fever...he hadn't worried about all he had seen filling his thoughts.  It had been so easy then to lose himself in dreams.  With a soft grunt, Luka rolled onto his side, cradling his head on one arm as he held the small picture with the other hand.  Why was he able to cheat death so often?  He drew a barely controlled breath before laying the photo on the cot near his head where he could see it.  As he traced the outlines of the two people his thoughts continued to would have been so easy to give up, it wasn't as if he had a life any more...his life was long gone...dead with his family...all that remained was the shell he'd become.  

He could feel the fatigue pulling on him...he was so tired and it would have been so easy to move towards it.  The dreams would be there though..the reminders and he found himself fighting..forcing the drooping eyelids open, unwilling as yet to face the horrors the dreams might unleash.  This was when it was the hardest, that moment when he lingered on the fringes of sleep, aware that his conscious thoughts would carry themselves into his dreams.  The ghosts were closer today, reminding him that they wouldn't be forgotten, and he drew a deep breath with the realization that it was moving past his control.

He let his eyes close as his hand settled over the picture of his wife and daughter.  If he focussed on the sounds of the tent...he found himself fighting a battle he wouldn't win and in those last moments he grasped for any sound that might hold it at bay a moment longer.  "Tata.."  He heard the child's cry through the other sounds in the room...the name he would never again be called.  "Tata!"  The child's voice surrendered to another as he finally eased himself into sleep...

<Croatian> "Tata...make Marko leave my blocks alone..I'm making a house and he keeps breaking it."  He looked up from the text book that lay opened on the desk in front of him..the surface covered with journals and notes.  He had a test in the morning and it seemed everything he read was something he had never seen before. He knew that wasn't really the case, the facts were there, but the recent escalation in shelling had forced extra duty at the hospital and between that and the children being forced to stay inside it seemed sleep was in short supply. "Tata...make him stop..."  The small girl's voice carried even more urgency and he closed the book with a sigh as it broke into his concentration. "Jasna...share with him..."  He glanced across the room to the corner where the two kids played only a second before the block struck the girl's forehead.  "Marko..." He shook his head as his son giggled over having actually hit his sister with the toss...and then rose as his daughter began to scream with the intensity only a 4 year old can muster. "Drop it Marko..." He crossed the distance between them relieving the boy of the second block he readied for another throw... then kneeling to draw the sobbing girl into his arms... "Shh... Jasna... shh..." He settled himself on the floor..cradling her in his lap..murmuring endearments as he soothed her, a hand accessing the damage that had been done. "Tata...Marko..up..." He felt the boy's hand on his arm... wanting his share of the attention his sister was getting...

The change in weather had thinned out the number of patients still in the tent, most of those who'd battled pneumonia had returned to their own tents.  She allowed her eyes a chance to adjust to the darkened room then moved across to his cot.  He must be sleeping....she took in his still form as he lay on his side, his back to the entrance.  Moving around so he would see her as he woke, she lay a hand on his arm... "Luka..." She spoke his name quietly so as not to frighten him.  "Luka, time to wake up."

to be continued...

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