An ER fanfic that takes place following the "Bishop Stewart" Arc
The Priest met Luka's gaze and held it as he rose and walked around the desk then took a seat on the corner of it. "Dr. Kovac...Luka..." He slipped into the less formal address before continuing, "the Bishop told me you were from Croatia...how long have you been in the States? A year..maybe two..your accent is still fairly noticable so I'd say not much longer then that." He paused his eyes still on him as he rested his hands in his lap.
"Almost two...but I don't understand why that matters."Luka lifted his hand again to the bruise on his cheek...if only it would stop throbbing so he could think. Why had he come here in the first place? He wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone about what was going on...if he could just leave now he could pretend he hadn't even been here. He shot his eyes to the door then back, fully aware that the Priest was still watching him.
"Luka...you made quite an impression on the Bishop...no one had done that in some time. I wonder if you realize how many people a man of the Bishop's standing dealt with in the course of a week." He paused as if he expected an answer and when none appeared forthcoming he continued. "We are a large congregation and we have people of many nationalities among our members. Many of those who find there way to us are looking for ways to understand why God would allow unspeakable tragedies to fall on his children."
As the Priest kept talking Luka could feel the panic rising...he was getting too close... he had to go now before the ghosts were released..."Father..." He lay the bible and then the rosary back in the box then replaced the lid on it. "That was a long time ago..." He brushed his fingers across the surface of it, unable to bring himself to look back up at the man.
"It may have been a long time ago Luka..but I don't think it's over for you yet...I can see the difference in you from the last time I saw you..." Luka shook his head...squeezing his eyes closed to keep from letting the emotions out. "The Bishop made arrangements for a speaker to come talk to the congregation...I think he'd want you to attend as well." He rose again as he spoke and walked back around the desk then pulled a piece of paper out of the basket on the corner of it. "This has all the information...you have nothing to lose by coming and hearing him..." He slid it across the desk, "If you won't come for yourself...come for the Bishop."
As he opened his eyes he couldn't help seeing the heading on the paper and despite himself he found himself reading it...
10 Ways to Recognize Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is in many ways a normal response to an abnormal situation. After a tragic event, it is likely that you will experience a variety of symptoms and emotions. Sometimes, however, these symptoms surface several weeks or months after the tragedy. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recognizing these symptoms in yourself or others is the first step toward recovery and finding appropriate treatment.
1) Re-experiencing the event through vivid memories or flash backs
2) Feeling “emotionally numb”
3) Feeling overwhelmed by what would normally be considered everyday situations and diminished interest in performing normal tasks or pursuing usual interests
4) Crying uncontrollably
5) Isolating oneself from family and friends and avoiding social situations
6) Relying increasingly on alcohol or drugs to get through the day
7) Feeling extremely moody, irritable, angry, suspicious or frightened
8) Having difficulty falling or staying asleep, sleeping too much and experiencing nightmares
9) Feeling guilty about surviving the event or being unable to solve the problem, change the event or prevent the disaster
10) Feeling fears and sense of doom about the future
Compiled by The American Counseling Association, its 18 divisions and 56 branches
No...this wasn't him...he'd just been tired. He lifted a hand to his face as he ticked off the symptoms...how many of them had he fallen victim to? Oh God...he couldn't handle this now...almost too abruptly he pushed the chair back and stood..shoving the paper in his pocket before picking up the box. "Will you at least think about it? I know he would have wanted youthere." The Priest knew better then to push too hard..he'd seen more people like the man in front of him then he wanted to admit. Many were far worse...he couldn't risk losing him now...not when he was so close. "Just come and listen to the man Luka...that's all I'm asking of you...that's all the Bishop wanted."
Why did he have to kept reminding him of what he owed the Bishop? Luka wanted nothing more then to flee the room...leave the Church and find the nearest bar... anywhere he could lose himself in the alcohol again. He drug his hand back through his hair...his inner turmoil written in his actions and on his face. "I don't know if I can..." He dropped his eyes to the box again. "Do this for me then..at least think about it...you won't be the only one there...all I'm asking is for you to come and listen to what he has to say." There was no point pushing him any more...already the man looked like a deer caught in the headlights and it wouldn't take much to send him running...he had to give him some time. "Tell you what..take the paper home and read it...even if you only attend for what it would do for you as a doctor...just think about it." He walked around the desk again...
He was wearing him down and almost reluctantly Luka nodded, "I'll think about it.."As he spoke he started to back towards the door. "Look..I really should get going..." Father Joe smiled. "I understand...I'm glad you came by Luka...and my door is always open to you." Had he been speaking to anyone else he would have offered a hug.. something to let him know he was there for him. That the man was physically distancing himself already said more then words could have and instead he held his ground, reinforcing his words instead with a broader smile. "Stay safe Luka..."
"Sure...thanks for your time Father." If the Priest had wanted to say anything else it was lost as he turned and left the room...he needed air...needed to be anywhere but here. He lengthened his stride as the church seemed to suddenly close in on him. By the time he reached the Chapel he was barely aware of what he was doing...the need to flee filling his thoughts completely. Once outside he broke into a sprint...he had to get away...had to find somewhere to think...
He left the church with no direction in mind, his thoughts twisting around themselves so he could barely think. For the next several hours he walked the city in a daze, reality tangling with images of his past until he could no longer separate them. At some point it had begun to drizzle and by the time he found himself on the river's bank he was soaked to the skin and shivering from the cold. The rain and falling temperatures had chased most people indoors and it was that too that seemed to be fueling the sense of isolation around him. As he reached a metal bench he stopped and ignoring the water that pooled on it he finally allowed himself to rest. Staring out over the gray water it was easy to forget where he was and it wasn't long before his mind returned to the past.
It had been raining for most of the night but he knew he had to keep going...he had to put distance between himself and the city...between himself and those who would kill him. Keep to the trees...keep off the main roads...he tried to remember the warnings that had been whispered in the halls and ward rooms of the hospital. Why hadn't he paid more attention to them? The thought was lost as he caught his foot on a half buried root and he found himself falling. A cry of surprise replaced by a choked one of pain at impact and he clutched his leg as he prayed for it to subside.
He couldn't do this anymore. He lay there for what seemed like hours but in truth was only minutes trying to catch his breath as the new pain mingled with that which had settled deep inside of him. Pulling his hand from his thigh he felt the stickiness of the blood from the reopened wound...how much longer could he leave it untreated before it was too late? Biting his lip he forced himself first to sit and then to stand...he had to keep moving...
It was the drizzle shifting to sleet that roused him, the sting of the ice striking his face the only thing able to break that hold to his past. Even as he stood the remnants remained, for whatever reason the ghosts were back and they would not rest until he learned what they wanted from him. Pulling his collar up he slipped his near numb hands into his pockets, his fingers sharing space with the Bishop's gifts to him. The words on the flier filtered back to him as he looked across the water and he raised his eyes to the sky as if expecting the man to be looking down at him. "I'm not like that..." He voiced his disagreement even as deep down he knew they rang with amixtureof untruth. There was no turning away from this...there was no place to hide. With a sigh he turned his back to the river and began the walk back to his hotel.
to be continued...