Saturday, June 25, 2005

Ghosts 32/37

Chapter  32

An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc

Angelique continued to stroke Luka's brow for several minutes after his breathing had slowed, assuring herself that he had finally given into the sleep that he so desperately needed.  As she drew her hand back she allowed the events of the evening to catch up to her and despite her efforts to hold them back the tears fell.  The hardest part of working in the camps had been letting them go...she lifted a hand to wipe the wetness from her face, then reached for the blanket that lay on the foot of the bed and covered him.  When she'd first arrived she had listened to the warnings about forming attachments...about keeping her distance in order to do her job more efficiently...they were her patients, she their doctor, she should stay objective.  She had to see each as only one more in the endless stream of patients that would pass through her hands, and for several months she had heeded those warnings.

The first had been a child...a boy, no more then 4 who had lost both parents to a bombing raid...he'd been so frightened, and she had made space for him in her heart.  Over the next few weeks he became her shadow as he healed and when an uncle was found and it came time to let him go, she had grieved the loss of him even though she knew it was for the best.  She'd promised herself it wouldn't happen again, she had sealed heart, tending their wounds then releasing them from her care with little more then a hug, or a whispered thank you from them in exchange.

She never knew when another would chink away at the shell she built around her heart to keep her safe, and when they did she welcomed them openly, only to grieve the loss when they left.  Luka had been one of those...she shifted her attention to him as he stirred, moaning softly at whatever haunted his dreams.  "Shh,'re all right."  She brushed her hand along his cheek, then began to lightly caress his brow until he quieted.  He'd come into her life taunting death, not so much from his injuries, as from himself and though she would never know for sure, she'd always thought it was that which had drawn her to him.

<Croatian> "Tata...the sound of his daughter's cry reached deep inside of him and Luka stirred as he tried to register where she was.  "Tata!"  Her cry grew more agitated and he forced himself to focus on her...wanting to sit up and go to her only to find he wasn't in his bed.  Where was he?  He tried to make sense of it all but his mind only saw the darkness and a growing cold... "Tata!"  The small girl screamed and he felt his blood chill with the renewed panic of needing to find her at any cost..."Jasna..."  He felt his breathing quicken as the cries of his wife and son joined hers...their panic rising until all three twisted together and threatened to choke him.  "Tell me where you are."  He found himself stumbling through the darkness...nearing them only to have their voices fade again.

It was hard not to let her own thoughts wander as he slept, the questions she had yet to find answers to surfacing as she watched him.  How much of her life was she willing to give up to work with him?  Her practice was finished, she had never found time to have her own family, was she willing to leave her own country to be with him again?  She'd helped him find himself once before, could she do it again?  His restlessness was worsening and Angelique felt her own worry over him rise... was this how his life had been, the dreams haunting him as much now as they had then?  "Shh...Luka... listen to me Sweetie...listen to my voice...its only a dream..."  

<Croatian> "You said you would protect said you would keep us safe."  Danijela's words pierced the darkness and cut through him as sharply as if they were a knife.  "I tried....I didn't know...." He dropped to his knees, clutching his stomach as if to staunch the flow of blood to the wound he perceived to be there.  "I couldn't know...."  He forced the words out...his tone one that begged for forgiveness even though he knew it would never come...

"JA mogao znati..."  Luka rolled to his side, drawing his knees to his chest against the pain of the imagined wounds, his words spoken aloud for those he couldn't see.  As he suddenly moved Angelique strained to translate the Croatian words....her forehead creasing as she tried to make sense of them.  "Couldn't know what, Sweetie?..."  There was no doubt that his dream had taken hold of him on one of the deepest levels and as she lay a hand on his shoulder she had to wonder if he was even aware she was at his side.  He was feverish...she could feel the heat radiating off of him long had he been like this?  Had there been anyone here for him?  

"Damn!"  Abby slammed the receiver back into the cradle in frustration, this wasn't going at all the way she had planned.  Here it was almost midnight and still she'd heard nothing from Luka...but worse then that he hadn't even bothered to go back to the hotel.  She pulled her bathrobe tighter around her as she curled into the couch before reaching for the television remote.  What was keeping him?  She found herself flipping through channels without even noticing what was on them, then finally stopping on a late night showing of Sybil as she noted the irony of it.  There were times she could almost swear he was different people, one moment fully attentive to her the next so distant that he seemed not even to be there.  Why did she even bother to make sense of it...why did she stay?  She raised the volume in a vain attempt to drown her own thoughts out.  Because you love him stay because you love him, and in his own way you know he loves you too.  The realization only seemed to make the situation worse... where are you Luka?  

<Croatian>You let us die promised to protect us and you let us die..."  Each word only seemed to increase the pain and Luka gasped with the increasing intensity of it.  He was going to die...he was sure of it...he released a sigh of acceptance..he deserved death...what right did he have to live when they were all dead?  He let his breathing slow as he relinquished some of his hold on life to the nightmare...

"Luka...Sweetie.."  Angelique felt her concern rising as his breathing slowed....she had to get him out of it..."Luka!"  He took hold of his shoulder and shook him..."You need to wake up now need to let them go and come back to me."  Please...let him hear me...she found herself whispering the prayer without thought...she couldn't find him after all these years only to lose him again.

"Luka...Sweetie...I need you to wake up now."  Against her better judgment Angelique rose and went to the bathroom, grabbing a washcloth she held it under the faucet until steam rose from it.  Carrying it back into the room she took her seat next to him and began to wipe his face with it, hoping it would be enough to pull him away from the hold of his dreams.

He was dying....he drew his hand away from the wound he was sure was there and felt the stickiness of his blood on his fingers.  He should be afraid of it...but he wasn't... he surrendered even more to the sensation.  "Luka!"  He found the peace shattered by the sound of his name...and within the darkness and cold he felt a growing warmth...

to be continued...

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