Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ghosts 28/37

Chapter  28

An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc

It would be so easy to just surrender to it...that was the lingering thought in his mind as Luka let his head drop to his arms.  As Angelique's hand moved through his hair, he could feel himself being lulled into the fog of drowsiness...the place where the ghosts often lurked.  He knew it was a mistake to give in to it, he knew he should stay, but it was so close, and he was so tired.

"It's all right, Sweetie."  He could hear her voice, quiet, reassuring, safe...her voice had always made him feel safe.  His hold on the present drifted farther away, as if he were floating in water and each breath he released seemed to carry him further and further from shore.

It was too hot...he was too hot...shifting restlessly he pushed the thin blanket off of him in a vain attempt to find some relief.  The fever left him disoriented, unable to make sense of the mixture of voices and smells that tumbled over themselves in his mind.  He groaned in agony as his movements jarred his leg, sending fresh waves of pain cascading over him. 

"Shh...Sweetie, try not to move."  He heard the woman's voice above all of the others only moments before the damp cloth was laid across his forehead.  "I'm going to give you something for the pain."  He forced himself to concentrate on the sound of her voice, then opened his eyes slowly, narrowing his attention to her alone.  "You're going to feel a sting, Sweetie...then you'll get very sleepy."  Her words barely made sense but her tone held a comfort he needed, flicking his tongue across too dry lips he nodded, then closed his eyes again.  Anything...the thought lingered...just make the pain go away..

She had taken the pain away, or at least the physical pain, the emotional would not be so easily healed. He had continued to struggle with that long after his body had recovered, but she had never given up on him.  Fighting the growing lethargy he lifted his head from his arms.  "Angelique."  He spoke her name quietly, confirming to himself again then his eyes were not playing tricks on him.

Releasing a smile the woman moved her hand from his hair to his face as she nodded again.  It couldn't be easy for him, she knew that, and many years of experience had taught her that he couldn't be rushed.  His understanding had to come at his own pace.  "Yes,'s me."  She brushed her fingers through the prematurely gray hair at his temples, the smile remaining intact.  "Why don't we go and get some coffee...and maybe something to eat?"  Normalcy, that was he needed now, simple tasks he could grasp until his mind processed all of this.  "Come on, Sweetie...let me help you up."

She had to be patient, and she paused, waiting for him to grasp onto her words before moving to help him stand.  Even with her arm around him he was unsteady and she couldn't help but begin to make comparisons to how he had been when she had first met him.  "You're doing fine."  She offered the reassurances quietly, continuing to whisper to him even as they walked away from the room.

The change on him as soon as they stepped outside the confines of the Church was immediate and left her wondering if it was just the blast of cool night air or something more.  He had noticeably relaxed and though he had yet to say anything more, she knew if she released him he would be fine.  Did she want to let him go though?  After all these years of wondering what had become of him, she finally had him back in her life, was she ready to release him?  Could she take the chance that he might run from his past and in turn run from her?

"Angelique?"  He spoke her name so softly that she almost didn't hear him over the noise on the street, and when she did he had already stopped walking.  Shifting her full attention to his face she offered a soft smile.  "Yes, Luka."

"How?"  He shook his head, then closed his eyes and opened them again as he tried to force his mind to rational thought. 

"How did I find you?"  It was Angelique's turn to shake her head.  "I didn't know you would be here, Alexander asked me to fill in for a colleague who wasn't able to finish the tour.  I'm retired now, it was a chance to come to America, when I saw you, Sweetie...I thought that Alexander had somehow found you and wanted to surprise me.  I never forgot you..he knew that, but when I saw your face, I knew you didn't know either."  She found her smile deepening as the words of her explanation spilled out.  "How are you Luka?  Are you still a doctor?"  She stopped herself from asking what she next wanted to know from him. Have you allowed yourself to live again, Luka?  Have you allowed yourself to be happy?  Have you allowed yourself to love again?

How was he?  He wasn't sure what he should say in response, should he tell her he thought he was going insane?  That there were times when the ghosts of his past became so strong that he no longer knew where he was or what he was doing?  Should he tell her that he had met someone but couldn't bring himself to fully open his heart to her lest he lose her too?

Lifting a hand he brushed it back through his hair with a brief shake of his head.  "Yes, I'm still a's how I met the Bishop." As soon as the statement was out he regretted it.  Why had he opened the door to the man's ghost?  He let the hand drop as he pulled his eyes from her and to the Church as if he expected the elderly Priest to be walking down the stairs to join them.

"Luka?"  Angelique's voice drew his eyes back to her, "Are you all right?"  She couldn't restrain the need to look after him even now.  Was that why he had remained so much a part of her thoughts for all of these years?  Was the fact that she'd always felt she had failed him what kept him close to her?  Was this her second chance to do what she had been unable to do all those years ago?

"Yeah."  He nodded even though he knew the answer to be a lie...he wasn't all right, how could he be?  In the last two months his life had been turned upside down and as a result the fragile hold he'd maintained on his sanity was fraying.

Whether she knew or was just guessing, Angelique touched his arm again.  "Luka, Sweetie, why don't we go and find some coffee, we have time, we don't have to rush this."  She let the smile fill her face as she spoke, she would not lose him again, and in that moment Angelique knew if that meant staying in Chicago to be close to him, that was what she was willing to do.

to be continued...

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