An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc
The disorientation of a mind still tangled in the tendrils of sleep lingered and Angelique offered a reassuring smile as she waited him out. Even with as long as he had slept his eyes were barely open, the dark circles below them speaking of more then a few restless nights. "You can go back to sleep, Sweetie." She gave him the option even though she inwardly hoped he would refuse.
"What time is it?" The words came out as a hoarse croak and brought a frown to her face before she lay a hand on his forehead. "Almost ten, Luka, have you been sick?" When he nodded lethargically her frown deepened. "Have you been taking anything?" She asked the question as she rose, then filled a glass with water. "Antibiotics..." He saved the response for her return. "I suppose you treated yourself too." She couldn't help chastising softly as she held the glass so he could drink. "How long have you been sick?" She withdrew the water as he raised a hand to push it away. "I don't know, a few weeks." He rubbed the hand across his face in a failed attempt to rouse himself then started to sit only to have her lay a hand on his shoulder to still him. "Stay. Now, let me get this straight, you've been sick for several weeks, you're self medicating yourself, barely sleeping from what I can see, and if you're true to form probably not eating either. Is that about right?" Her face had hardened slightly with the summary and the realization of how close to the edge he was. When he offered nothing in his defense she sighed, then reached across to touch his chin with her fingertips, forcing him to look at her. "Luka...it's been ten years...you can't keep punishing yourself because you lived and they didn't. We can keep going around and around this, but nothing will change the fact that your wife and children died that day and you didn't."
"I can't do this...not now." He made a failed attempt to pull away from her hold with the protest. "You have to do this now, Luka. Whatever led me here," She paused only to start again. "It's time to put this to rest." When he simply closed his eyes she found anger edging into the worry she felt for him. "No, I will not let you pretend this isn't happening... Luka... look at me." She tightened her hold enough to make it uncomfortable, then eased it as he opened his eyes again. "You can't fool me Luka, if you really wanted to die you would have done something about it by now...I'm guessing death isn't your goal. You can't possibly think that by punishing yourself you are somehow going to feel better about all that has happened?" She could feel the tensing to his jaw as he reacted to her words and though he had yet to move otherwise she sensed she had stumbled onto his ultimate goal. "That's it isn't it? You think that by denying yourself a real life you can make amends for having survived when the rest of your family didn't.
As he closed his eyes she felt the tremble pass though him. "Sweetie...." She allowed her tone to soften, "We all lose people...it's part of life, I'm sorry you had to learn that lesson so young and that it cost you so much, but you can't stop living your own life because of it." She released her hold on him to brush her fingers back through the hair at his temple. "I know the man Danijela fell in love with, who she married, and who she chose to have her children with is still inside you, even if you don't want to admit it." She wiped the tears off his face as they began to fall with her words. "You deserve to be a husband and a father again Luka." She paused as he lifted an unsteady hand to his face.
"You don't understand...." He opened his eyes as he wiped the wetness away. "What don't I understand, Sweetie...tell me, make me understand?" Angelique fixed her eyes on his with the request. "I can't betray them." When he tried to roll to his side so he wouldn't have to face her she stopped him. "No, Luka, tell me....why do you think you'd be betraying them?" This had gone on for far too many years and as much as she knew it would hurt, she also knew it was time to bring it to a resolution. "Luka, tell me why you think you would be betraying them?" She repeated the question when he didn't answer her.
She watched him silently as he raised a hand, rubbing first one eye then the other as he stalled for time. His hold was slipping and she could see the tremble of a barely controlled breakdown running through him. How much more could she push before he fell over the crumbling edge that he clung so precariously to? "Luka, tell me." As he cleared his throat she offered the water again, letting him have that extra moment to frame his thoughts.
"Danijela..." He spoke her name reverently as the glass was withdrawn. "My wife...she was my first love, my only love." He made the admission knowing that in doing so he was admitting what he already knew in his heart about his feelings for Abby. "We promised to love each other forever." He sniffed back the approaching tears. "Jasna and Mar..." His voice broke and he paused to gather the strength he needed to continue. "Jasna and Marko, they were our future.... everything we did was for them." When he moved to roll to his side this time Angelique made no move to stop him. "I thought by becoming a doctor I could give them the life Danijela and I never had." He swallowed deeply, fighting for the words. "Instead I got them all killed." He covered his face with his hand as his hold slipped even more.
"Luka...you're choice of careers didn't kill your family, a mortar shell did." She touched his shoulder lightly, "It was war, and you can't keep blaming yourself for something you had no control over." How many times would she have to go over this before he could finally accept it? "I still don't see how you think that living your life...that being happy is betraying them." Angelique raised her hand gently touch his cheek. "Can you tell me?" It took several agonizingly long minutes before he could find the words to answer and when he finally did speak it was in an unsteady whisper. "When I'm with someone else....oh God, forgive me...there are times I forget about them." He lifted pained eyes to her. "What kind of person am I that I could forget my own wife and children?"
"Oh, Sweetie, " She couldn't not share his pain in that moment. "You aren't betraying them by not thinking about them every minute of the day. They're always going to be part of you, but your heart is big enough to let others in too, just like you would have found room for more children with Danijela." As she spoke she moved to the bed, settling down beside him before easing his head onto her lap. "I know it seems like your world ended that day Sweetie, but it didn't, I promise you that. As long as you live, they live." When he turned into her she smiled, folding her arms around him as she leaned down to kiss his hair. "Let it go Sweetie, you've held onto it for long enough."
The release from him was almost immediate, a shuddered breath the signal that the wall had finally given way. As had been the case the night before Angelique found herself unable to do little more then hold him as his body shook, whispering reassurances and comfort until exhaustion finally claimed him. The ghosts that had held him prisoner for ten years had been exposed, his fears stripped bare. The healing could finally begin, and with the healing he could once more learn to live, and even someday love. She could only hope she would be there to witness it.