Friday, June 10, 2005

Ghosts 4/37

Chapter 4

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

From the moment he had walked through the doors of the ER, Luka had not stopped running.  A 6 car pileup had thrust him into the middle of a series of traumas that had kept him occupied for several hours, and where on any other evening he might have minded, tonight he welcomed them.  As he finally got the driver of the vehicle that had initiated it stable enough to send him off to surgery he was ready for a breather.  He'd just started for the Doctor's Lounge to grab a cup of coffee when he found himself cornered for an incoming GSW.

He had hoped for the chance to talk to Abby at some point before her shift ended, but he had yet to see her.  Maybe he could ask one of the nurses if they had seen her.  He found his mind wandering, drifting to how he'd left things with her, what was she thinking right now?  "Dr. Kovac?" Lydia's voice drew him out of his thoughts and back to the man on the table in front of him...

45 minutes later he resigned himself to the futility of their attempts and with a frown he handed the paddles back to her.   "Hold compressions."  He watched the monitors grimly for a moment then moved his gaze to the clock.    "Time of death...2:56."  He took the offered chart and signed his name to the bottom of it before handing it back... only vaguely hearing the "He didn't stand a chance, " that was offered in consolation.  "I know..."He agreed as he pulled the bloody gloves, then gown off and tossed them aside. "Is the family in chairs?"  At the nod he headed for the door, pushing his way through, readying himself mentally for what was to come.  He set his jaw as he entered the room...looking across the expectant faces as he stopped.

"Mrs. Gardner?"  He watched the people sitting there for some sign of recognition, then as a woman nodded he approached her.   "My name is Dr. Kovac, I treated your husband.  Are you here with anyone Mrs. Gardner?"  He asked the question quietly, hoping to give her some privacy despite all the people..  The woman nodded, "My daughter, she went down the hall for coffee, how is Daniel?  He only ran to the store for some cigarettes...he wanted a pack...he was supposed to have quit..."  The woman was rambling, filling the silence with trivial information as if that might prevent hearing what she somehow knew was coming.   "Mrs. Gardner, your husband's injuries were quite severe."  He slid his hands in his pockets as he spoke, aware that every eye in the room was on him now.   "We did everything we could, but there was too much damage...Mrs. Gardner, I'm sorry, we couldn't save him, your husband died."  

He heard the anguished cry that broke from her and the second that followed the sound of something hitting the floor behind him, a moment before a younger woman folded the older into her arms and lowered her to a chair.   "Is there anyone that I can call for you?" He hated this part of the job, no matter how hard he had worked to save the man, the family would always feel he had somehow not done enough.   "No, thank you,"  The daughter shook her head, then moved her attention back to the sobbing woman besides her.  "Mrs. Gardner, would you like to see your husband before we take him downstairs?"  Both women looked over at him, mirrored nods saying what words could not.   "Follow me then..when you get to the room you'll see a lot of tubes..."  As they rose and he walked them back, he began to describe the scene they would face....

Informing family members of a patient's death was always difficult and his time with the Gardner's had only served to accentuate that.  As he finished his final notes on the man's death Luka wanted nothing more then to find a quiet room alone to finish out him shift.  Sleep itself was not an option so instead he grabbed the stack of charts he still had to review.  Where to go?  He rubbed his eyes wearily as he first cast his eyes to the door of the Doctor's Lounge, and then to the board...the suture room was empty, that would work.  Dropping his hand he grabbed the pile of charts and made his way down the hall, willing himself invisible as he passed each trauma room until he reached the end.  Juggling the charts he pushed the door open then slipped inside, hoping to find the solace he needed.

Dropping the stack on the gurney he pulled the nearby stool over and sat.  The day shift would be arriving soon, the thought registered for no real reason as he rubbed his fingertips into his eyes before reaching for the top one  Releasing a weary breath he flipped it open and bracing his head with his hand, he began to read.  Male...24... presented with broken..he skimmed the notes for anything thatseemed unclear, then added comments where needed before signing off on it.  If someone were to ask him two days from now, could he even attempt to put a face to all of these?  He frowned at the thought then flipped the cover closed before laying it aside and reaching for the next.  Margaret Becker...64...complains of shortness of breath...10 minutes later he was asleep.

His lungs screamed as he ran...and as he zigzagged across the field, dodging bullets and debris, all that mattered was reaching the wall and getting over it.  Watch where you're going.  He shielded his face as a bullet striking nearby sent a spray of gravel up towards him.  Get to the wall.  He found he had to keep reminding himself of the main objective as he barely avoided the bricks and rubble of bombed out buildings that had once been home to people no longer there.  He almost made it. He released an audible groan as a barb of the wire bit into his hand as he grabbed it.  Too late to stop...he hoisted himself up and threw his leg over the top wire.  The memory of the next few minutes played through his mind in slow motion, he felt the bullet rip into his thigh, the momentum so strong that it easily carried him over the top and to the other side.

"Dr. Kovac...paramedics are on their way in...drunk with a head lac."  Malik's voice brought an abrupt halt to the memory and Luka jerked his head up with the suddenness of it. "3 minutes out...can you take it?"  Wiping his hand across his face, Luka nodded as he turned to face him.  "Sure, let me finish this chart and I'll meet you in the bay."  As Malik closed the door he looked back at the chart that still lay open in front of him, he didn't even remember reading it.  Without fully admitting it he knew he needed a few more minutes to draw the rest of his thoughts away from the dream.  Dropping his eyes back to the chart he began again and as he read his hand absentmindedly massaged his thigh.  As he realized it he pulled it away and stood..scrawling his name on the chart and closing it as if it were the reason for the action.  He forced the lingering images of the dream aside and scooped the charts up then headed for the door.

"How far out now?" He asked as he joined those outside after dropping the charts at the Nurse's Station.  Wrapping his arms around himself in concession to the morning's chill, he shifted his gazetowardsthe street.   "Should have grabbed your coat Dr. Kovac.." Malik said with a he tightened his own around him.  Whatever reply he was about to give was forgotten as the ambulance backed in and the two men immediately pulled the doors open, listening to the paramedics as they tried to update them over the drunk's protests as they wheeled him into Exam 1.

"Sir, you'll have to be quiet,"  Luka tried to access the man as he fought the hold the paramedics and Malik had on him.."Get your hands off me." The man tried to push him away as he wiped some of the blood away to allow himself to get a better look at the wound.  "Sir,"  Luka took a deep breath and tightened his jaw as he fought to keep his temper under control.   "I have to see how bad it is,"  He leaned in again to look just as the man brought an elbow up...

<Croatian>"Son of a bitch..." Luka clasped a hand to his face as he staggered back against the blow...his eyes watering with the intensity of it.  "Haldol...5 mg.."  He waved off the resident who had moved to his side then stepped back in to help Malik restrain the man.  "You're going to get a blackeye from that one..."  Malik assessed optimistically as he handed the syringe across the table.  "Great...just what I needed to finish the night."  He commented icily as he jabbed the needle into the drunk's upper arm.     Passing the used needle off he stepped back so they could tie restraints on the man. 

As he watched them his hand moved to cover the swelling bruise on his cheekbone.  "I'll order films, but I don't think it's going to need more then stitches."  Malik nodded..."Go get some ice for that..I can watch him until they come for him."  Knowing he was right Luka nodded, then moved to the drawers and pulled one of the gel bags.  After smashing the vile inside he grabbed the man's chart and headed back to the Nurse's Station.

"Luka, let me see it."  At the sound of his name he opened his eyes and lowered the pack.  Kerry...she wasn't due on until...what time was it?  He started to rub his fingers into the bruise only to have her grab his hand to stop him.  "Let me see how bad it is."  He sucked air through his teeth, unable to withhold the wince as she gently probed along his cheekbone.  "Nothing's your vision?"  He wanted to wave her off...he should have been able to tell that the man might do something. "How many fingers, Luka?"  Kerry had moved to stand in front of him, once more trying to get his attention on her.  "Luka, how many fingers?"  She asked as she held them a short distance from his face.  "3...I can see fine...I just have a headache" He brought the gel pack up to cover his face again, unable to hold back the irritation at his own carelessness. "You should get a cat scan done."  He shook his head at the request.  "I don't need a cat scan."  Weaver frowned at him then let her eyes settle on him.  "Fine, take something for the headache and go me later and let me know how you feel so I know if I need to schedule someone to take your shift."  Luka lowered the gel pack again.  "Don't start Luka...your shift is done..go home." 

He wasn't ready to go home...that was the thought that lingered as he stood and walked into the Doctor's Lounge to put his coat away and grab his bag.  His head was throbbing, but that wasn't it...or was it?  He hung his stethoscope and lab coat on the hook before pulling the peacoat out and slipping it on.  As he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror he might have been looking at a stranger.  It wasn't the darkening bruise though that caused the was his eyes, he closed the door, unable to look at himself anymore.  He'd seen the look they held before...he knew what it meant.  The ghosts were getting too close again and he had to find somewhere to escape from them...

to be continued...

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