Sunday, June 12, 2005

Ghosts 7/37

Chapter 7

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

He might have been sleepwalking as he returned to the hotel, a warm numbness having replaced the freezing chill left by wet clothes and falling temperatures.  "Dr. Kovac, what happened, couldn't get a cab?  I swear sometimes that they pull them off the streets when the weather takes a turn for the worse."  The doorman's voice brought his thoughts to the present and he mumbled a half reply in acknowledgment as he moved through the opened door and into the lobby.  Any other time he would have stopped to talk to the man, but not tonight, and as he continued across the lobby to the elevators he barely saw anyone else.  Punching the button to for the car he found himself inwardly hoping that Abby was not waiting upstairs, all he wanted was to escape everything and he couldn't do that with her there.  When the doors opened he stepped inside, leaning against the wall wearily as they slid closed again.  As he watched the numbers tick off above the door he found his eyelids drooping, the warmth of the small box lulling him farther and farther away from the ghosts.  As it jerked to a stop he started..yanked back suddenly and shaking his head he forced himself away from the wall and out into the hallway.

When he reached his room it took several tries for him to get the door open and as he entered the darkened room he wanted nothing more then sleep.  Lowering himself to the couch he leaned back and closed his eyes, too tired even to remove his coat.  "Luka?"  Abby had come awake as the door opened, sitting up on the bed she watched in confusion as he paused uncertainly then sat.  "Luka?"  She repeated her call to him, then when he still didn't respond crawled off the bed and moved to his side. "Luka?"  She lay a hand on his arm as she took a seat on the couch next to him.  "You're soaked..."  If her words reached him he didn't show it and lifting a hand she touched his cheek gently.  " God, you're like ice.  Come on...let's get you warmed up..."  When she began to tug on his coat he opened his eyes but the look she saw made her wonder if he was even seeing her.

He offered no protest as she coaxed him forward, pushing the sodden coat off his shoulders and then pulling his arms from the sleeves before letting him lean back again.  Tossing it to the floor she loosened his tie and slipped it off before moving to the buttons on his shirt, frowning as she found it soaked as well.  "Luka, what were you thinking?  Let me get a blanket."  She said softly as she stood, hating to leave him for even the short time it took to cross the room and pull the blanket from the bed.  Almost as an afterthought she detoured to the bathroom, filling a glass with hot water before returning.

When he seemed not to have moved at her return she found her concerns for him mounting.  "Luka, look at me."  She tried to draw his focus as she set the glass on the table then draped the blanket around his shoulders.  "Look at me, please?"  She fought for some sign that he was even aware she was there then released a soft sigh of relief as he finally drew dull eyes to her.  "Luka, what happened to your face?"  The question was out before she realized and a part of her wondered how she hadn't noticed it before. When even that question gained no response she let it drop, resisting the urge to touch his face as she reached for the glass and held it to his lips.  "Luka, I want you to drink some of this...we need to get you warmed up...just a little, please?"  She coaxed him through several swallows before he turned his head away from her. "It's all right,'s okay." She sat the glass on the table then brushed his wet hair off of his face. "Let's get the rest of these wet clothes off of you and get you into bed, okay?"  She might have been talking to a child as she spoke and without thinking she let her voice reflect that, holding her fears at bay as she worked with him.

Pulling him to his feet she led him across the room to the bed. "Stand here, Luka." Bracing him with one hand she fumbled with his belt then unfastened his pants and pulled them down.  "Luka, step out of them...that's it, okay...good."  She talked him through each step before guiding him to the side of the bed and on to it.  "That's it, Luka, you just need to sleep."  When she had pulled the blankets around him she lay down beside him, only then aware of his eyes on her.  Managing a soft smile she brushed her fingers through his hair.  "It's okay, you can sleep."  She whispered to him quietly. 

"Too many ghosts.."  She almost didn't hear him when he spoke, "What was that, Luka?"  She touched his forehead lightly withher fingers, already feeling the start of a fever there.  "Can't keep them away..."  The words came unexpectedly and she drew her hand away for a moment.  "What can't you keep away, Luka?"  What ever else he might have been about to say was lost as he closed his eyes and slid closer to sleep, and Abby found her worries deepening.  This was more then his dealing with the Bishop's death...much, much, more.

When his breathing had slowed and she was sure he was asleep she eased herself off the bed and picked up the phone.  She knew he was supposed to work tonight and that wasn't happening with him like this.  She quickly punched in the number of the hospital.

"Mark Greene, please."  She shifted her eyes to Luka as she waited for the call to be picked up on the other end, then found herself continuing to watch him even as she talked.  Hi,'s Abby.  I'm calling in for Luka, he's supposed to work tonight but he's not in any shape to come in.  Fever, chills...could be flu."  She paused as she listened to the voice on the other end then nodded.  "He's sleeping now, I'm going to stay at least for a few hours in case he gets any worse.  Sure, I can let you know.  Thanks, Mark."  Replacing the receiver in the cradle she stood unmoving watching Luka.   He had barely moved since she'd gotten him settled in bed and he'd fallen asleep and she couldn't help wondering if she should be worried or happy at that.  Not wanting to wake him she reluctantly moved to a nearby chair and settled into it to keep vigil.

As the first streaks of dawn creased the sky he knew that he had gone as far as he could without sleep. After the first day he had taken to traveling by night to avoid the patrols, and while it was safer, it also meant the travel was slower.  When he saw the ruined walls of what had been part of a small house he stumbled towards it warily.  Part of his mind warned him to be cautious, the rest saw as a place of shelter from the seemingly endless rain that had been falling.  It could be a trap...they could be watching even now...waiting for just that right moment to take him prisoner, or worse to kill him. 

He crept closer...stopping every few feet as his eyes swept the fields around it for any signs of movement, then moving again as his ears registered only the steady rain that fell.  When he reached the house he paused again, taking in the pitted plaster and crumbled brick that bore witness to the destruction that had driven the family from it's walls.  Little remained behind, what hadn't been destroyed had long ago been salvaged by others in need.  Only a corner of the roof remained, but it was something and he gratefully sought shelter beneath it.

Groaning, he lowered himself to the ground acknowledging what he had already known as his leg's stiffness told him he had neglected it for far too long.  Unfastening his pants he raised himself enough to ease them down, then bit off a strangled cry as the blood soaked fabric tore itself loose from the wounds.  Gritting his teeth he settled again and probed the wounds...his muscles tensing at the daggers of pain the action brought.  Other then being dirty the wound was better then he expected, the bullet seemed to have exited intact, and at least that was in his favor.  Tearing several strips of fabric off the bottom of his shirt he packed both wounds then bound them tightly, it would have to least for now.  With a weary sigh he eased his pants back up and over the makeshift bandages and leaned back against the damp wall willing himself to rest.

As Luka slept, reliving parts of his past he'd rather not revisit, Abby continued to watch him with increasing concern.  She'd been with him before when he'd wrestled with nightmares, but they had never haunted his waking hours like these seemed to be doing.  Sliding her leg out from under her she slipped off the couch and walked across the room to the bed.  The fever was worsening, she could tell that by looking at him and as if seeking relief he had pushed the blankets aside as he slept.  Pulling them back over him she found herself half wishing she knew what kind of dream he was locked into. Laying a hand to his forehead only confirmed her feelings and she frowned in response to the heat that radiated from him. 

With a sigh she moved away again, retreating to the couch and picking up his discarded coat before sitting.  There was so much about his life she knew nothing about, so much of him that she knew he concealed from her.  Would he ever reach the point where he trusted her enough to fully share it?  She brushed her hand across the still damp coat only to stop as she felt the box in the pocket.  Okay..maybe she shouldn't but her curiosity was peaked...she glanced to thebed then withdrew the soggy box, wondering if it held some clue to what he was going through.  "Luka, what were you thinking?"  She voiced the question softly before reluctantly setting the box on the table and checking the other pocket...

to be continued...

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