Character/Pairing: Luka Kovac/Sam Taggart
Word Count: 1162
Warnings/Spoilers: None to speak of.
Summary: While still with Sam, Luka finds himself visited by someone from his past, but how could he be?
Disclaimer:Neither Goran Visnjic's image nor the character of Luka Kovac of ER belong to me. No copy-write infringement is intended by their use, they are being borrowed here strictly for entertainment purposes
"Luka?" Sam opened the door slowly, not sure what she would find, she'd already heard from Susan about Luka's calling in about his shift, and the suspicion in her voice that it was somehow a planned conspiracy had not been lost on her. At the darkness in the apartment she slowed Alex's entrance behind her, maybe he was sick. She turned to her son before fully entering.
"Alex, would you go to your room for me? I want to check on Luka, make sure he's ok." Even without intending to Sam found herself keeping her voice quiet, when Alex simply nodded and complied without protest she knew he too sensed something was wrong.
"Luka?" She had just laid her purse on the table and started for the stairs when she saw him, sitting in the dark at the kitchen table, a small candle flickering as he held it in his hand. "Luka?" As she moved closer she realized that what he held wasn't just an ordinary candle, it was a birthday candle, a leftover from Alex's cake just the previous month. When Luka still didn't answer or seem to take his eyes off the flame she moved in behind him and gently placed her hands on his shoulders. "Luka, what are you doing?"
Maybe it was the touch, maybe just the fact that she spoke more then his name but it was enough that he finally pulled his eyes away from the small flame and lifted them to her.
"I forgot." As if it were a magnet he found himself drawn back to the flickering light.
"What did you forget, Luka?"
He seemed to lose himself in the candle again and Sam found herself tightening her hands on his shoulders to pull him back.
"Who's birthday, Luka?" The realization of the answer came too late to stop the question, and she readied herself for whatever reaction it would bring from him, except the one it did.
"Marko's.." He spoke the name too calmly. "My baby boy would have been sixteen today...I didn't even remember." He seemed not to notice the wax that had begun to drip onto his finger as he held the still burning candle. "What kind of a father forgets their son's birthday?"
"Luka..." What could she say to ease his guilt? Instead of using words right away she stepped closer so she could wrap her arms around him. "It's understandable Luka, what with work the way it's been..." She stopped short of mentioning the problems between the two of them that might have been distracting him.
"Would you forget Alex's birthday?" The question carried an iciness with it meant to sting.
"It's not the same thing." Sam released her hold on him so she could take the chair across from where he sat.
"Isn't it?" The candle was nearly finished and he couldn't bring himself to put it out despite the fact that he knew it was close to burning his fingers.
"Luka...you're not thinking straight. Your son has been gone a long time. I'm sorry if it hurts to have me put it like this, I know we don't talk about him, but that's been your choice." She watched him closely for some reaction, then, when she could stand it no longer, took the candle out of his fingers and blew it out. "Beating yourself up over it now isn't going to change anything.?"
"It's not just that I forgot his birthday..." He began to pick the wax from his skin as he slowly spoke.
"Then what is it?" Sam found herself nudging him on as he seemed to stall.
"It's little things...forgetting that he hated onions...or the way he would tilt his head kind of sideways when he didn't really understand what you were asking him to do." He raised his eyes to hers again. "I tried to remember ...I closed my eyes and tried to see him doing that and it wouldn't come." Even as he looked at her Sam couldn't shake the feeling that he was looking past her, seeing things far beyond what was in the room.
"I don't have any pictures of my son, all I have are my memories of him, if I lose those, then I've lost him completely." There was a break in Luka's voice as he tried to make her understand.
"You'll never do that." Sam stretched her hand across the table to capture his hand only to have him pull away before she could touch him.
"Don't." He stood, scooting the chair back so quickly that it almost tipped over in his haste to get up. "I forgot his birthday, he would have been sixteen today and I forgot." He stood at the kitchen counter with his back to her for several minutes before he spoke again, and when he did his voice had grown even more dispondent.
"Sixteen, the age his mother was when I met her, old enough to drive a car, to have a girlfriend. He missed out on so much, and the thought of my forgetting what little he did experience." His hands tightened on the edge of the counter.
"Luka, stop, don't do this to yourself." Sam rose from her chair and moved to stand behind him, circling her arms around his waist before resting her head on his back.
"He's always going to be there for you Luka, just like your daughter is, and your wife, they're parts of you. Just because you don't talk about them doesn't change that, not having pictures of them doesn't mean you loved them any less than I love Alex. I'm sorry you forgot Marko's birthday, I wish I would have known, I could have reminded you, shared it with you, but it's been your choice to keep them to yourself. Maybe from now on, you'll let me do that, be there for you, so you can talk about them with me the way you're there for me when I need to talk about Alex. Can you do that Luka?"
"I don't know..." He had kept his family to himself for so long. Sensing his hesitancy Sam forced him to turn and look at her.
"Luka," Looping her arms around his shoulders she raised up on her tiptoes to kiss him. "Please?"
"I can try." His agreement came as barely more than a whisper
It was a start.