An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc
When Luka lifted his hand to push the hot cloth from his face Angelique couldn't help but smile. "That's it, Sweetie...fight it." As his eyes opened she withdrew it completely only to replace it with her hand as she brushed his damp hair off his face. "JA pustiti njima kocka..." He offered the confession so softly that she wondered if he was even directing the words at her. "Luka, look at me Sweetie...English." She moved out of the chair and onto the bed itself as she spoke to him, she had to get him tied to the present again.
As he started to close his eyes she stopped him. "No, Sweetie...not yet...I want you to stay with me for awhile....can you do that?" Lifting him by his shoulders she scooted under him before cradling his head in her lap. "You can't keep blaming yourself...you did everything you could...now it's time to let them rest." She found herself idly stroking his brow as she spoke, the action allowing her to connect to him on a more personal level. "We all lose people....but you can't keep holding onto the blame for something you had no control over." How many times had she spoken those words, or similar ones over the years?
"She wanted to leave Vukovar...but I couldn't leave my studies..." His voice broke as he tried to explain and he closed his eyes to give him a moment to collect himself. "I put my work before my family..." The admission did not come easily and even as he voiced it the tears welled.
"You wanted a better life for them, there's nothing wrong with that." Angelique offered the words in comfort before wiping the wetness from his face. Luka took a shuddered breath, "I knew she wouldn't leave without me." His words might have been spoken for his ears alone as quietly as he spoke them. "She loved you...she wanted to stay with you. She was an adult..she knew the risks as well as you did." How many times would they have to travel this same road before he could accept the words as truth?
When he did nothing more then release a quiet sigh in response Angelique's hand stilled again. "Luka...it's been almost ten years...you have to let them go." He shook his head, blinking back the tears that had yet to fall. "I can't..." How could she reach him? What words could she possibly offer that she had yet to say that would make the difference, that would rip aside the guilt he had so tightly shrouded himself in?
"Sweetie...if you had died...if Danijela and the children had been the ones to live that day, " She paused..knowing she had entered dangerous ground..."would you have expected them to stop living..to hang on to their grief?" She found herself studying the lines in his face as she fingered the damp strands of hair that lay on his forehead.
"No..." He barely got the word out and she offered a soft smile as reward for the effort it took him to admit it. "Then if you wouldn't expect it of them, how can you believe that they would expect it of you. You have to live your life for the three of them..you hold their memories."
As she paused Luka rolled to his side, letting his eyes settle on a spot on the wall as he tried to process her words. How could he let the blame go? How could he walk away from the guilt of his own survival? How could he explain that the guilt was his way of ensuring that he would never forget them? That each moment he felt happiness was in his mind a betrayal ...yet another of those things they would never know?
"Luka?" He closed his eyes then swallowed in an attempt to get a better hold on himself. When Angelique brushed her hand along his cheek his breath caught, "She would want you to live for all of them Sweetie..." Biting his lip he squeezed his eyes shut in a failed attempt to stop the fresh flood of tears. "Let it out...you have to let them go..."
His hold was slipping and Angelique knew he was dangerously close to falling over the edge, leaning over him she cradled her arms around him, offering the comfort that seemed the only thing left to give him. "It's time Luka." She whispered the words quietly into his ear then smiled softly to herself as he drew another breath before surrendering himself fully to the cleansing tears that would hopefully mark the start of his acceptance of her words. To hell with propriety...Angelique pressed her lips to his forehead. "That's right, Sweetie...let it go..."
As his trembling increased and his body became racked with the outpouring of grief she found her own tears joining his, falling freely as she refused to relinquish her hold on him even for the time it would take to wipe them away. The weight of all that those tears held was not lost on her and perhaps that made the moment all that much stronger. Ten years of pain...of grief...of blame that he had cover himself with when it was not his to take...she could only hope that this was the start of his healing.
When he had finally exhausted himself to the point that sleep claimed him again Angelique eased Luka's head off her lap, then stood before draping the blanket over him. She was stiff and tired..but she wouldn't trade either if it meant giving up this moment... stretching she looked over at the small bedside clock..3 am...no wonder she was tired. As her gaze returned to Luka there was no doubt in her mind that exhaustion would allow him to sleep the rest of the night, and common sense told her she should claim her own sleep.
Wandering into the bathroom she splashed cold water over her face to wash away the trails her own tears had left on her cheeks. Who would have though she would have to travel half way around the world to find him again? She offered a smile to her reflection before lifting her eyes to the ceiling in an almost silent prayer of thanks. "Thank you for bringing him back to me... and thank you for giving me a chance to do what I couldn't do the first time I had him in my life..." With that she turned and returned to the room... staking claim to the chair at his bedside..her hand resting lightly on his shoulder as she surrendered herself to well deserved sleep.
to be continued...