Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ghosts 26/37

Chapter 26

An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc

Letting him walk out of the door alone was the hardest thing she had ever done, Abby was sure of that.  Reaching across the couch she picked up Luka's discarded sweater, burying her face in the soft fibers she inhaled his smell before pulling it over her head.  Even up to the last instant...when he'd closed the door behind him she hadn't been sure he would be able to carry through on his promise to the Priest, and actually attend the seminar.  He'd been lost most of the day, pacing the room nervously, unable to concentrate on anything for more then a few moments.  He'd said almost nothing throughout the long day and her efforts to get him to rest, or even eat had fallen on deaf ears as he battled a stomach in knots.  By late afternoon she had given up and found herself feeling as lost as he was. 

How many times had she contemplated going to him, willing to offer nothing more then the physical comfort of her body?  She inhaled his scent from the sweater, as if that might somehow bring her closer to him as she remembered thinking that her offer might somehow be enough to distract him long enough to find some peace.  In the end, she had done nothing but watch helplessly as he moved restlessly around the small space, alternately picking things up as if he had never seen them before then putting them down again.  Worse then that though were the times when he moved to the window only to lose himself to the memories of his past as he stared into the gray winter day.

Ultimately he'd given in, unable to refuse the Priest nor the Bishop's final request of him.  Even after the decision was made he'd found no peace, and he debated still longer with himself before finally asking that she stay behind.  Why was it so hard for him to let her share his life?  As she folded her arms around herself and closed her eyes Abby could almost convince herself that it was Luka's arms that held her...but the reality remained.  She was here, at a time when he needed her more then ever he had chose to go alone, leaving her waiting while he was left with the ghosts of his past as his companions.

Father Joe followed Angelique's gaze as she shifted her attention to the opening door.  As the color fled her face and she reached for the chair to steady herself his instinct was to move towards her, he'dnever know why he failed to act.  The expression that moved across her face left him thinking she had seen a ghost, then as she whispered the young doctor's name and began to walk towards him his attention shifted.  If the man was aware she was there he hadn't reacted to her at, he hadn't, his eyes hadn't left the podium since he had entered. 

The Priest split his attention between the two, there was little doubt in his mind that Luka had shut himself down to everyone in the room but Fletcher, he'd seen the signs before.  The young doctor had only entered far enough to put his back to the wall beside the door, as if somehow grounding himself with the contact.  Father Joe pulled his eyes away and forced himself to Doctor Forquet, she was still moving towards him, but her pace had slowed, as if she somehow sensed he might panic and flee.

Oh my God, Luka...Angelique was certain he shock of seeing him enter the room would bring on a heart attack.  Had Alexander somehow known?  Had his invitation to join him been his idea of a grand reunion?  She steadied herself on the chair think without thinking released it and started towards him.  Was it possible he was taller then she remembered him being?  Her eyes swept over him, measuring the man before her against the images of him who played guest in her dreams and memories.  He'd put on weight...and his temples held traces of gray...his face looked drawn, tired...but it was his eyes she remembered and as she met them, she saw they still held the sadness in them.  He'd entered alone...was he still grieving the family he had lost so many years before?

She slowed as her initial surprise gave way to common sense and caution, he had yet to see her, his attention fully on Alexander as he spoke from the podium.  That he hadn't moved any farther then the door spoke to his wariness, but something had forced him to this point...or someone.

He shouldn't have come...that was the thought that continued to dominate all others as he pressed his back against the wall.  What had he been thinking?  He hadn't...he could already feel the panic rising, the tightening of his chest...the air that seemed no longer to be there.  Concentrate on the man at the front...pretend the others aren't here...he fought for control, only to feel it slip a little farther away from his grasp...they were all still here.  Why had he agreed to do this?  He could feel the catch in his breaths as the unrational sense of panic grew stronger...listen to the words...what words?  His head felt like it was filled with a million voices all talking to him at once.

"Luka...Sweetie...look at have to slow your breathing down."

He flinched as the one voice grew louder then the rest, feeling a hand on his arm before he was firmly jerked back to the reality of the present and to the face before him.  No... it couldn't be...not here, it had to be a dream, his eyes widened in stunned disbelief.

"Slower...that's good, Sweetie, you're all right."  She'd taken hold of his arm again, as if somehow her touch could keep him anchored.

She felt so real, but how had she gotten here?  He forced himself to look at her in more detail, using it as a way to chase the panic away and ground himself even more.  He wasn't imagining her...she was really here.  He was sure his legs weren't going to give way as the reality finally hit, and he lifted a hand to touch her cheek in final confirmation.  " it really you?

to be continued...

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