Saturday, June 18, 2005

Ghosts 20/37

Chapter  20

An ER Fanfic set following the "Bishop Stewart" arc

His sleep had been restless again, as if he were somehow not allowed to have more then one night of rest before his dreams haunted him again.  She tried to ignore it, laying still and silently wishing he would turn to her for support.  When he tossed the covers aside in resigned defeat and sat on the edge of the bed, Abby found herself fighting not to reach out to him.  He'd been awake for almost an hour, laying in the darkness, so close to the edge that she was sure he would fall off if he moved again.  Why was he so afraid to touch her?  She watched as he dropped his head in his hands, longing to draw him into her hold him...stroke him...whisper reassurances that she was there for him, that she would always be there for him.  As he stood and moved to the window she felt her heart lurch...he looked so lost, and in that moment she knew he was far away again, the sights he was seeing through the glass, those of a lifetime away

He was retreating more and more from her, and from himself, and it was all she could do to stay and watch his decline.  Even now, as he stood naked before the window, she was struck by the irony of it.  Over the past few days she had seen him more vulnerable then in all the time she had known him.  She had listened to him call for those who would never again answer and cry at the realizations of their loss, and she had held him when his fear at being left so alone had left him shaking.  But even with all of that he still felt the need to shut himself away from her...

As he was wracked once more by the coughing she broke her battle of wills and rose, stripping the blanket from the bed and carrying it over to drape around him.  "Luka, it's too cold for you to be standing here with nothing on."  She offered the explanation though she wondered if he even heard her, "Where are you Luka?"  She asked the question softly, her fear of an answer almost as strong as her fear that he would not.

He didn't really want to go, but in the short time he had known her he had learned that the woman would rarely take no for an answer.  Reluctantly he reached for the crutches, why couldn't she leave him alone, why couldn't they all just leave him alone? Couldn't they see that he didn't want to be part of their world anymore? Didn't they understand that he was choosing where he wanted to be, and it wasn't here?  He lifted his eyes to her, and seeing the warmth there he forced himself to his feet, sliding the crutches under his arms once he was up.

"Do you need my help?"  Angelique found herself wishing he would say yes, even though she knew he would not.  The distancing was part of his withdrawal...he didn't want contact anymore...he didn't feel he deserved it. Contact meant feeling and the only thing he wanted to feel was pain.  She'd seen it so often...he needed the pain as a reminder, as a way of punishing himself.  He had survived when his family had not and rather then be grateful for that gift he felt guilty.  She watched as he grimaced, with the settling of weight on his still tender leg."  Ready?"

Angelique remained silent for several minutes, allowing him to set their pace as they walked down the narrow lane between the tents.  The way he kept his eyes to the ground worried her, it wasn't about him watching where he was going.  It was yet another way of separating himself from the world around him, as if his not seeing them made them not there.  As they reached and intersection she directed him to his left, then waited until he had once more settled into the slow but consistent gait he'd adopted before breaking the silence.  "'re getting stronger everyday now, you can't keep punishing yourself for that" She saw him flinch, but when he didn't stop she pressed ahead..."Sweetie, you can't keep blaming yourself because you lived and your family didn't."  Her words stopped him in mid stride and his eyes widened in surprise.  "Don't give me that look, you need to be doing need to start living again."  His face noticeably paled and she had no doubt that if he had been able to run away from her at that moment he would have.  "You were a doctor...are a doctor, Luka, you can help people can help yourself.  It's time you started doing that, want you to start working with me in the clinic."

"Luka..."Abby laid her hand on his shoulder as she spoke his name again and as if waking from a dream felt him relax under her hand.  Watching his reflection in the glass she saw the wave of first confusion then realization at where he was cross his face before he spoke. "Abby?"  She nodded, letting a soft smile move over her face as she saw his eyes take in her reflection as she had his.  "I'm tired..." He spoke the words as if confessing a sin and she could only nod before drawing him into her arms."I know's all right...."  She pulled his head down to her, kissing his forehead lightly before guiding him back to the bed.  "It's all right for you to sleep now..."  She settled him into bed...pulling the blankets over them both as she drew him into her arms.  She barely felt the tears that fell on her cheeks as he relaxed against her, he needed her as much as she needed him and together they would get through this.  Whatever he had seen had broken the spell he had been under, she ran her fingers lightly through his hair and across his face, whispering to him until he eased gently into sleep.  It was hard to say what the morning would bring, but as she lay there beside him, she knew there was no question that she would stay by his side throughout it.

to be continued...

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