Friday, June 10, 2005

Ghosts 3/37

Chapter 3

An ER fanfic that takes place following the "Bishop Stewart" Arc

As the alarm thrust him into consciousness Luka couldn't help but groan, the pounding in his head only seeming to worsen in the time it took him to silence the clock.  How many more nights would he find it necessary to subject himself to this?  How much longer could he exist on the 3-4 hours of alcohol induced unconsciousness that was passing as sleep?  Forcing himself to sit he swung his legs over the side of the bed, only to find himself confronted by a wave of nausea as the room spun before his eyes.  Bracing one hand on the mattress to steady himself, he lifted the other to shield his eyes as he waited for the rolling to stop.  He couldn't keep doing this...dropping his hand he hesitantly opened his eyes, then released a breath as the dizziness seemed to have passed. 

Using the bed for support he stood, then as his legs steadied he crossed to the dresser and opened the top drawer.  Grabbing a clean pair of shorts from it, he closed the drawer, before reaching for the slacks that lay draped carelessly across a nearby chair.  How much longer could he function like this?  The question continued to gnaw on his thoughts as he headed for the bathroom.  Once inside he lay his clothes on the toilet and reached over to turn the water on.  By the time he'd stripped his shorts off and stepped into the spray the water had filled the room with steam, and he braced his hands on the wall, basking in it's warmth.

Releasing a sigh he turned his back to the jet, letting the hot water knead into the knots that seemed to have permanently settled into his muscles.  For several minutes Luka stood motionless, his forehead resting against the back of his hands as he rested against the tile.  It was easy to let his mind wander as the pulse of the water seemed to lull him farther and farther away from the small room.  He jerked away from the wall as he realized he was bordering on falling asleep on his feet, or worse of losing himself to yet another memory of his past.  No...he shook his head and reached for a the bar of soap, and in the time it took him to wash, the feeling had faded.  At least for now the danger had passed and with a relieved sigh he set the bar aside then reached down and turned the faucets off as he stepped out.

Grabbing a towel he shivered as the chill of the room contrasted with the warmth he had just left..then dried enough that he could step into the shorts and slacks.  He had opened to door to even out the room's temperature and was in the middle of shaving when the sound of someone knocking at the door interrupted him.  Draping his towel over his bare shoulders he crossed the room to answer it.

"Abby."  She had been the last person he'd expected to face and whether it was something she saw in his face, or heard in the tone of his voice, she seemed to sense that.  "Nice to see you too, Luka."  She held the carryout bag up so he could see it.  "I thought maybe we could eat together before your shift."  He lifted his hand to his temple as the hangover induced headache continued to send a none too subtle reminder of his drinking.  "Sure...whatever...come on in."  He let the hand fall and moved aside so she could come into the room.  "Gee, Luka, you think you could manage just a little more enthusiasm there?"  She tried to keep her tone non-combative as her eyes swept over him, noting his appearance.  "Luka, what's going on?"  She searched his face, not liking what she was seeing then lay her free hand on his arm.  "Luka?"  He shrugged off her touch almost too suddenly as he spoke, "Nothing...look..I need to finish getting dressed."  He used to excuse to allow himself to move back to the safety of the bathroom..and away from her scrutiny. 

She almost questioned him again, but closed her mouth before it escaped, moving instead to the table with the food.  As she started pulling the cartons from the bag she couldn't help but notice the bottles that littered the table and nightstand.  "You had a party?  She tossed the comment out almost too casually. 

"What?"  Luka stuck his head out of the bathroom door as he finished wiping the last of the shaving cream from his face.  "I said..."  She paused to moderate her tone.  "Did you have a party last night?"  She waved her hand to indicate the scattered bottles.  "Let it drop, Abby."  He tightened his jaw as he walked across the room to the closet and opened the door. 

"Luka..."  Abby was an expert in avoidance...she'd had her entire life to master it.  Luka was new to the game, and something in the way he was trying to distance himself threw all kinds of red flags around them.  Setting the last carton down she walked over to where he was standing, before sliding her arms around his waist.  "Talk to me, Luka."  She planted a kiss on his bare back before resting her head against it. 

Why had she touched him?  He closed his eyes, choking back whatever reply might have been there then dropped his hands to cover hers.  "I can't."  The words were less then a whisper and even as close to him as she was, Abby still had to struggle to hear them.  "Luka?"  She lifted her head to kiss him again, "Will you at least look at me?"  She asked quietly. 

For several long minutes he did nothing and Abby found herself becoming more and more frightened by his mood.  He was supposed to be the strong one.  She found herself turning him to her and when he offered no resistance her fears grew.  "You need to sleep."  She said softly as she raised a hand to touch first his cheek then to slide it around his neck so she could draw him closer to her. 

When he started to protest she lay a finger to his lips and stopped him with a shake of her head.  "Later."  She silenced him with a light kiss before backing him to the bed, then sitting and pulling him down beside her. 

He didn't have any fight left in him and as she coaxed him to bed he complied...maybe he could hide in sleep.  Maybe with her there the ghosts would remain at rest.  As she lay beside him he shifted so he could lay his head on her breast, the sound of her heartbeat providing the anchor he needed to draw him towards sleep.  As he closed his eyes he could feel her fingers as they brushed through his hair, and across his brow, the sensations lulling him farther away from her.

"Sleep, Luka."  She kept her voice low, her motions set on easing the tension that seemed to radiate from him.  "Shh..."  She whispered. "Just sleep."

He woke slowly, noises in the hallway filtering through the tendrils that still held him in sleep.  With a soft snuffling he shifted slightly on the bed, tucking his hand under his head before releasing a quiet sigh.  Only when the radio triggered as the alarm did he finally fully wake, the music acting as the lifeline that guided him to consciousness.  With a moan he rolled onto his back, stretching with a yawn and at that same moment registering that Abby no longer lay next to him.  "Abby?"  He rubbed his hand across his eyes as he sat up and glanced around the still darkened room.  He was about to call again when he caught sight of the folded slip on paper on the pillow beside him. 

Drawing his knees up he unfolded it, a slight smile breaking his face as he read.  He owed her some kind of an explanation, but how could he explain to her what even he didn't understand.  Part of him wanted to pretend that nothing was happening, but there was a larger part that recognized that for the lie it was.  He'd seen symptoms like his in the the hospitals.  He let the note fall between his upraised knees before brushing his hands back through his hair.  No...he wasn't insane...he tried to force the thought away as he propped his elbows on his knees then cradled his head in his hands.  He'd kept the ghosts locked away for all these years, he could continue to do it...he just had to try harder.  He couldn't let them overrun all he had accomplished.  He pushed the fear aside as he rolled his shoulders back, then threw the covers off...he couldn't do this now, he was supposed to go to work.  Work was would keep the ghosts at rest...

to be continued...

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