Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ghosts 23/37

Chapter  23

An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc

As he found himself a seat in the waiting room, Father Joe was still questioning his decision to approach the young doctor again.  Has he crossed the imaginary lines that separated personal desires from professional advisement's with the man? Had he put his supposed obligation to continue the Bishop's work over what might be in the young doctor's best interest? There was no question that the seminar would prove a great benefit to him, but was his decision to use the Bishop as a means to get him there appropriate?

The Priest drew himself out of his thoughts to look around the packed room.  How long had the doctor buried himself in his work as a means to forget his past...5 years...10 years? In that time he had fought to reinvent himself...he had turned from his faith, his country, anything that had served to remind him of who he had been, what he had been.   What right did he have now to even ask him to undo that and face those things he had left behind?

The more the questions nagged at him the more Father Joe realized how different he was from the man Bishop Stewart had been.  How many times he had envied the Bishop's unique gift for seeing past the walls so many of their parishioners hid behind.  The Priest let his gaze settle on a woman nearby, her eyes red from crying, and in that moment he realized what else had eluded him in all of his questioning.  As he stood he let his thoughts of the Bishop and the Doctor retreat, before he approached the woman.  "Excuse me, my name is Father Joe...you look like you could need some company, do you mind if I join you?"

He'd been helping in the hospital for almost a week and in that short time Angelique had found herself looking for opportunities to watch him.  That he had been a good doctor, was still one, was obvious in those times where he let the walls he had built around himself down to reveal it.  He was so cautious though, and she had limited his treatment so far to the more minor cases to give him time to ease back into things.  She saw the way he listened to what even those patients failed to say and she couldn't help wondering if he saw himself in each of them as well.

Whether it was coincidence, or deliberate, Luka had thus far managed to avoid directly dealing any of the children that found their way in for treatment.  It was too soon, he told himself, as each would enter and he found somewhere else to busy himself.  Even the simple act of walking across the camp on an errand and having to hear their voices, or worse the sound of their laughter as they played, was enough to tear the barely closed wound of his own losses open again..

Word of the incoming had reached them before the victims of the landmine did and Luka glanced up from the supplies he was unpacking as the more serious were carried in.  As each doctor became busy his panic, rose...there were more coming...who would treat them?  His stomach seized as the small dark haired girl was carried into the tent and the man paused looking anxiously for a free doctor to treat her.  He could feel his breath catch as her appearance triggered one of Danijela and Jasna and he steadied himself on the table as he fought to resist the wave of bile as it rose.

"Luka...I need you."  Angelique's voice found it's way into him and he blinked rapidly to clear the images before locating her among the carnage of bloodied bodies.  "Can you take the little girl...can you do that for me Sweetie?"  Even as she asked she realized what it would take for him to act, but what choice did she have?  She cut the fabric away to expose the woman's chest that lay before her...who else could she ask?  

He wanted to say no....wanted to run away, but his legs wouldn't budge and when they carried her to the bed near the table his panic rose again.  Oh God, no, he stared at the small girl's tear streaked face ..."Jasna..."  He spoke the name aloud before he realized it, instantly seeing his daughter in her. <Croatian> "It hurts..."  The small girl's voice broke his trance and without another thought he reached for the crutches and crossed the short distance that separated them.  "I know it hurts...my name is Luka, I'm going to help make it stop, can you tell me your name?"

"Angelique...time to wake up."  Alexander Fletcher had waited until the Captain announced the airplanes descent to wake his companion, though he had been tempted several times earlier. She'd fallen asleep with a folder on her lap and a glance to the picture on top revealed a young man on crutches in what he immediately recognized as a refugee camp.  Maybe he had been wrong to ask her to be part of this...to ask her to revisit this part of her career.  He glanced to the photo again then back to her face, she'd seemed willing enough when he had approached her on it....she hadn't even asked him to allow her time to think about it.  As a small smile found it's way onto her face as she dozed he tried again..."Angelique....we're almost ready to land."

As he rounded the corner to chairs Luka stopped, letting his eyes pan the crowded lobby in search of the Priest.  The fact that the man appeared to be offering comfort to a woman did little to ease his own discomfort and he fought the urge to use it as a means of avoiding having to talk to him.  No..he had to put this to rest and drawing a breath he approached the two....

to be continued...

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