The motivation just kept coming...
(An ER fanfic with spoilers to The Lost)
Even before he opened his eyes he knew something was different...he was floating...no, not floating. He allowed himself to sniff the air and for the first time in who knew how long his senses weren't overwhelmed by the stench of death. Forcing his eyes open, Luka immediately closed them again, caught off guard by unexpected brightness. "It's all right..." He heard the words, felt a hand on his forehead, and he cautiously opened them again.
"Gillian?" His voice broke with the effort of speaking as he sought confirmation for what he knew had to be a dream.
"Yes..." She brushed her fingers across his forehead then issued a smile in response. "I think the fever has broke."
"Where?" His voice cracked again and he cleared his throat while taking in the area around them. "You found us?"
Gillian smiled at that, smiled even though her eyes grew wet with unshed tears. "John and I...we had some help though."
"Patrique." The name was enough to voice what he wanted to say and she immediately shushed him with a hand to his lips.
"I know...we found him." She reached for a glass on the small table next to his bed and held it to his lips. "You should drink."
"He was trying to save us...save me.."
"It's all right...you don't have to talk about it..." She wanted to silence him but she knew too that he had to talk about it.
"Chance...her mother?" There was fear on his face again with the question, fear that he alone had been spared.
"They're here...they're both safe." Gillian saw the relief and took that moment to offer the glass again, but after only a couple swallows he lifted his hand to push it away.
"Carter is here?" He seemed only to register the earlier reference.
"Yes, he came back to find you."
His eyes closed again as he nodded his understanding. Setting the glass down again Gillian reached for the cloth that lay soaking in a bowl beside it. As she squeezed the water from it she found herself watching him, not sure if he was still awake or had fallen asleep again.
"Why?" The word came so quietly that she almost missed it.
"Luka?" She wiped his face and waited for his eyes to reopen.
"Why did he come back?" The question was not one she had expected to answer and she resorted to simply shaking her head.
"Maybe you should ask him, he's outside I think, I can go get him." As much as she hated to leave him Gillian knew that this was still part of his understanding all that had happened.
Closing his eyes for a moment Luka considered her offer then opened them again with a nod. "Thank you..." He whispered the words and she sensed there was more to them then just her offer to get Carter.
The smile that followed them was genuine. "For what?" She continued to dab the cloth over his skin, cautious of the numerous cuts and bruises.
"For being here...for finding me." The second was added after a lengthy pause.
What could she say to that? Instead of answering Gillian lay the cloth aside and leaned in to kiss him. "You're welcome." She let the second kiss linger before drawing back as a nurse entered with Carter.
"You're awake." Carter's face reflected relief and a smile broadened across it as he saw Luka.
"Yeah..." The Croatian started to raise himself up only to have Gillian lay a hand on his shoulder to stop him. Too weak to protest he fell back against the thin mattress, his eyes still on the younger man. "Why?" The question had to be asked and it was out before he could stop it.
The corner of Carter's mouth edged up as he approached the bed, then took a seat beside it. "Why, what?"
"You came back..." Luka glanced to Gillian as he once more began to raise himself up off the bed, then dropped with an exasperated sigh as it elicited a glare from her.
"I couldn't just leave you out there."
"You could have been killed." Luka let his eyes settle firmly on the man then frowned as he shrugged in response. "You shouldn't have risked it."
"Too late." Carter smiled yet again, "Besides, I needed the vacation."
"Yeah, sure." Luka wasn't in the least convinced but he was too tired to argue. Sensing his growing fatigue the nurse did what Gillian hadn't been able to do herself.
"You should come back later, he needs rest now." Her words came in halted English for Carter's benefit, as she slipped a thermometer between his lips, then checked his IV.
"Right, get some sleep, we'll talk when you wake up again." Rising he took Luka's offered hand and squeezed it in response. "You look a lot better."
"Not sure I could look worse..." The response came drowsily after the nurse withdrew the thermometer, and if he realized the extent of what he was saying he didn't show it.
"Sure you could have." Carter found himself whispering the words to himself before turning to Gillian. "I'll meet you outside, you need to eat and get some rest yourself." His tone left little room for argument on her part.
"In a minute...." She watched him leave before retaking the seat beside Luka. Already she could tell he was inching towards sleep and she picked the cloth up to wipe his face, prompting him to open his eyes again.
"Leaving?" His voice had grown scratchy and Gillian lay the cloth aside to offer him another sip of water.
"Not because I want to."
"Missed you..." His words trailed off and prompted a smile from her.
"I missed you too..." She brushed his hair from his eyes with the admission. "Sleep now...you're safe..." She continued to stroke his hair until his breathing had slowed and indicated he was asleep. "You're safe..." She wasn't sure if her words were a reassurance to him or meant for her benefit, but she found herself repeating them almost as if they were a mantra until Carter opened the door and interrupted her.
With a sigh of resignation, Gillian leaned forward to kiss Luka's forehead, the heat from the fever he still battled warming her lips. "You're safe now...." She repeated the words for him. Only when she was sure he was asleep did she stand and after straightening the light blanket that covered him she reluctantly went to where Carter waited.