Sunday, November 26, 2006
The routine was one he was sure would never leave him. Where once it had been something he had done upwards to a dozen times an hour, these days it was rare that he caught himself drawing it out more than twice. It seemed only natural for it to be one of the first things he did in the morning, and one of the last things he did at night, a way for him to remain connected to a part of himself that was no more.
You wouldn't think that a small photograph could hold such power, but the one in his wallet did just that, freezing forever the faces of his wife and daughter at a time when they had thought life couldn't have gotten any better. He'd alway regretted that the photo lacked the one face he missed seeing the most, that of the son he and Danijela had shared, their youngest child, just six month's old at the time it was taken.
So, even now, fifteen years after they were all gone, he still found himself slipping the small photograph from the plastic sleeve before he tucked it in his pocket, then repeating the process as he removed it at day's end.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
For over fifteen years I have mourned the lost of my wife and children, mourned a life that by all accounts ended with their deaths. I also thought that the person I was to them was buried with them on the day their caskets were lowered into the ground on that cold Vukovar morning. I was wrong. I never realized that until Joe was born. Joe...Josip, my son...he's what I'm most thankful for, and of course I'm also thankful for what he's brought with him.
For the first six, maybe seven years after the loss of my family I refused to let anyone get close to me, I shut myself off from feeling anything, or so I thought. I had been responsible for their deaths, and any attempt to begin a life without them would mean a betrayal to them, and that was something I could never do, and then I met Carol.
I don't know what it was about her, maybe it was the fact that she was alone, maybe it was just my need to be a father again and the fact that her daughters were without one. Whatever the reason I allowed myself to grow close to them and when Carol left and took them with her, it was like losing my children all over again.
In the years between then and now I've made other attempts at trying to find myself, find the person I was meant to be, but nothing has ever seemed right, until that moment when Abby told me she was pregnant. I'd felt it once before, when I thought that Nicole was pregnant with my child, but it was different with her because I didn't have the feelings for her that I have for Abby. Then, when she said that it was was a lie, I don't know, I think in that moment I knew what it felt like to have hope ripped from your heart, and in it's place I was left with a gaping hole that I thought would never heal.
In that I was wrong, Joe has seen to that, and his birth not only filled it but, saw it grow tenfold. That's not to say it came all at once, his birth was not an easy one, his life was at risk for weeks after he was born and every day I prayed to be allowed to sacrifice mine for his. I begged God to spare his life, to not force me to have to see yet another child of mine laid in the earth before me, and this time he heard my prayers. Today Joe is thriving, and each day seems to bring something new for us to be thankful for, and I wonder, could life be any better?
Friday, November 24, 2006
It was Joe's first Thanksgiving, Abby and I had planned to celebrate it alone, just the three of us, but work got in the way and our plans had to change. It's funny, you would think that it would have spoiled the day but it really didn't, instead it gave me a chance to do not just something special for her, but for all of those who had to work the holiday.
Without bragging I like to think I'm a pretty good cook, I credit my Mama and Danijela for that, both of them thought that it was as much a man's place to be in the kitchen cooking as his wife's. Abby had been coaching me on what I needed to do with the turkey, and the gravy, and the...jib, no, giblets, up to the moment the elevator doors closed it was "remember to baste the turkey."
It was a huge meal, salads, potatoes, vegetables, stuffing, pie. Somehow I managed to get it all prepared and then pack not only all of it up and get it loaded into the SUV, but Joe as well and I hauled it all to the hospital. Why not share what we had with the closest thing to family that Abby and I have here right now. It's funny, for the longest time I don't think we saw those at work that way, but things are changing, we're coming together and yesterday really showed that in a way words couldn't have. I think it was a surprise to everyone and a Thanksgiving we will all remember for years to come.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Was it really possible that he had waited two years for her? Slipping out of the bed he moved to join Danijela at the window, sliding his arms around her waist as she stood naked before it.
"Good morning Mrs. Kovac." Leaning around her, he kissed her neck, unable to hold back the smile as he felt his body already beginning to respond to her as their bodies came together.
"Good morning to you, Mr. Kovac." She turned to face him, sliding her arms around him before stretching up on tiptoe to kiss him. "I was just thinking about how lucky I am."
"Were you?" He moved his hands down her skin, feeling the tiny goosebumps beneath his fingertips, stirred to life by the breeze blowing in through the window. "Are you cold? Maybe we should go back to bed?"
"No, not yet." She stopped him quickly, more for the fact of wanting the chance to see him in his nakedness than of wanting to seek an end to her own discomfort. Cautiously she inched one hand around his thigh, only bringing it to rest as she encircled his growing erection with her fingers. At his gasp in response she instantly blushed and opened her hand only to have him close his over hers.
"No...don't..." He leaned in to kiss her again then drew her back to the bed. They had waited two years for these moments, and now as a couple they had a lifetime.
There was a time when I dreaded sunrises. When I would wake and in the clouded blur of half sleep I would reach across the bed for Danijela and instead find only cold emptiness. I used to see sunrises as a reminder of our time together and found myself unable to bear to watch the sky as it burst forth with it's palate of color.
I have a new reason to look forward to sunrises again, my son, Joe. It seems that there are not enough hours in the day for me to spend with him and though I know I have to work, in truth, as soon as I'm home I want to have him near me. I'm sure part of it is a fear that I might still lose him as I lost Jasna and Marko, and if I am close I know that not a second would be lost. I have so much to share with him and he has so much to give me, I worry that I might forget something after so long, that'll I have forgotten what it's like to be a father, or more, to be the father I was to Jasna and Marko. I want to be that kind of father to Joe, not the one who's afraid to let him experience life.
So, I show him the sunrises, and I show him sunsets, but most of all I share with him the stories of those who he will never know, and I hope he'll grow to love them as much as I do, even though they'll never have a chance to meet.
Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER/Miscellaneous TV
Friday, November 17, 2006
Title: Joe's Frog
Characters: Luka Kovac,
Word Count: 501
Warnings/Spoilers: Contains Spoilers to Reason to Believe.
Summary: Luka deals with a newly received package
I've never felt so nervous, and I don't know what I can do to change the situation. A package arrived at the hospital yesterday addressed to me, inside was a note from C. A., and Joe's little stuffed frog. I wanted to throw up, I felt so sick at seeing it, at realizing the implications behind it I know, I'm not making any sense, I need to explain.
Curtis Ames was a patient who came through the ER, he presented with a variety of symptoms and ended up suffering a stroke while he was there. He blames me for what happened, he thinks I was negligent, that I didn't do enough, when in fact he refused a treatment that might have helped him even though it held some risks of it's own. So he became obsessed with suing me, he lost his job, his wife took his children and left him, he lost his home, and he blames me for everything. When I won the lawsuit I thought things would go back to how they had been, I guess I was wrong. Then the other day, I ran into him at the hospital again, and he told me he was going to appeal, I don't know what he hopes to gain from this, but I know I don't want Abby worrying about it.
A few days ago Abby said she couldn't find Joe's favorite little stuffed frog, we tore the apartment apart trying to find it, but couldn't find it anywhere. Then today, it arrives at County, sent to me by Ames. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried. How long has he been stalking them, watching everything they do? I don't want that man near Abby, and I definitely don't want him near my son.
I showed the envelope to the police, they didn't think it was anything to worry about, but how can I not worry? How close was he to my son? He knew his name, he knew the toy was his, do I have to wait for him to take him before anyone will do anything? I won't let that happen, I won't lose him, I can't lose him.
I almost told Abby about it, I took it with me to Ikes, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I can't have her worrying the way I am. I threw him away in the trashcan outside, Joe's frog. There was just something about the idea of him touching it after Ames had done whatever he might have done to it. No, I just couldn't handle the thought of that, so I threw it away.
I think for now I'm going to keep this to myself. I want Abby to enjoy this time with Joe, I don't want her memories of his childhood to be spoiled by fear for his safety, the way mine for Jasna and Marko were. In time I may have to say something, but not yet, not yet.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Character: Luka Kovac
Summary: Luka tries to comes to terms with life after Vukovar
Warnings: Deals with potentially sensitive subject matter related to the War of Independence.
Notes: This ficlet explores more of Luka's experiences in the displaced person's camp following his escape from Vukovar. I have previously touched on this time in my longer fics Ghosts, Time Heals all Wounds, and For One Life which I co wrote with M. Blais. All three can be found on the journal link on my profile page. For the already completed prompts to this Challenge Community visit the Chart at: http://dr-luka-kovac.livejournal.com/24138.html
How long could he hold his breath? How long could he pray that they wouldn't find him, that his fate wouldn't become the same as those he'd left behind at the hospital, or those gunned down in the streets as they tried to escape to safety? Squeezing his eyes closed he buried his face in the crook of his arm to shield it from the falling dust and gravel, and to muffle any coughs that might break through.
The wait for the men searching the building around him to leave seemed to take forever and it was equally terrifying. Would the wallboard that concealed him from the Serbian soldiers be strong enough to support their weight of them as they walked back and forth conducting their search? Would the next step one them took disturb the board that hid the small opening that separated life from death for him?
He could smell the smoke from their cigarettes, he could feel them burn at his throat with each breath he took. Is that how he would die then? Would he suffocate as their smoke and the dust from their footsteps stole away what little air his hiding place offered him? Had he made it this far only to die from lack of air before he could make his escape?
The crack of an isolated gunshot sent the men into gales of laughter and he was forced to swallow back his own bile as they joked of someone's death as if it meant nothing. Then, suddenly, from nowhere a hand had his shoulder and he realized he'd somehow given himself away, his fate would soon be that of those from the hospital, his life was over.
"Luka, shhh...quiet, it's just a dream...shhh..." The words came quietly in Croatian close to his ear, as he slowly came awake in the darkness.
"It's okay son, you're safe, it was just a dream." Sitting up on his cot Luka gulped for air as the old man whose cot sat next to his rubbed his hand over his back. The remnants of the dream were still lingering, but as the man continued to offer reassurance, they began to recede, and for tonight, the fear had been defeated
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Character: Luka Kovac
Summary: Luka tries to comes to terms with life after Vukovar
Warnings: Deals with potentially sensitive subject matter related to the War of Independence.
Notes: This ficlet explores more of Luka's time in the displaced person's camp following his escape from Vukovar. I have previously touched on this time in my longer fics Ghosts, Time Heals all Wounds, and For One Life which I co wrote with M. Blais. All three can be found on the journal link on my info page. Visit my Chart at: http://dr-luka-kovac.livejournal.com/24138.html for the chapters prior to this one.
He hated leaving the tent but there were times too when he could stand it's confinement no more, when it felt like the green canvas was closing in on him and the only way he could stop it was by leaving it. Slipping the photo of Danijela and Jasna into his pocket, Luka reached for the crutches.
It was an isolation of his own making, he knew that, it wasn't that others in the tent hadn't tried to include him in their conversations. It wasn't that they hadn't offered to include them in their games of cards or chess, or that they hadn't invited him to join them for meals. How many times could he have expected them to continue accepting his refusal before they stopped asking completely? If only Danijela could see him for who he was now. What would she think of how much he had changed, of how different he was from the man she had fallen in love with, from the man she had married?
That his thoughts had drifted to his late wife did not surprise him, she was a constant companion to his loneliness, a reminder of the life he no longer had. In truth though there were far too many things here that brought forth those reminders, it was why he hated leaving the tent. Why he hated listening to the conversations of those here as well as outside. On most days he could escape the reminders through sleep or with memories of what his life had been before Vukovar, but not today. Today nothing had worked and the feelings of loss were threatening to tear him apart and all he knew was that he had to get away from the reminders.
The rain that had fallen on the camp for the past several days had finally moved on, leaving behind mud, puddles of water, and soggy tents filled with people working to dry out what meager belongings they had left to them before the next series of showers arrived. The camp itself was divided into sections, rows of canvas which housed single men, single women, and those with children, and families, it was the last that he found the most difficult to move through, and which unfortunately seemed to always prove unavoidable.
It was never easy moving along the camp's rutted paths on crutches but with them now muddy it required even more of his attention, but it also slowed his pace. As he neared the area on the approach to the family tents it was unavoidable that the conversations within and around them would reach his ears.
"Tata!" He heard the call of the small girl almost as soon as he entered the walkway between the tents and it tore into him in a way he hadn't thought possible. "Tata!" Her cry was repeated, and then answered by the booming voice of a man who could only be her father. He didn't dare look for the two, knowing that it would only deepen the sense of loss, the sense of loneliness he was feeling.
He'd tried to explain what this was like to some of the doctors when they'd asked him about it, but, how could he expect others to understand something which he still couldn't fully understand himself? How did he tell someone that it felt like whole pieces of who he was were missing? That nothing he could do, nothing that anyone else could say, and nothing they could do would ever be able to replace them? How do you tell someone that even in a room full of people you feel totally alone because the very people who make you complete are no longer with you? How do you tell someone that your reason for living is no longer there?
Never could he have believed that one word could have caused so much pain, more pain even then the bullet that had ripped through his leg had caused. More pain then the sound of hearing a child calling for their father and wanting to answer, but knowing you can't. He'd thought that nothing could be worse than the grief he'd felt at losing his wife and children until he had come here, he'd been so wrong.
And then he is past those tents and until the next time he can, if he is lucky, push most of those feelings into the darker places of his thoughts. It's not easy though and some days are worse than others. On those days he feels more alone than at any other time, and then there are days like this one when he can't. Days where everything reminds him of something he no longer has,of someone he no longer is. These are the days he escapes to the pathways.
Maybe this is how he would spend the rest of his life. The very thought is enough to make him quicken his pace and cause him to stumble as the crutch slips in the mud as it searches for a footing to keep him upright. And then he is somehow back where he started and at least for today he can put the thoughts aside as fatigue wins over and it takes all his remaining strength to make his way back to the cot that at least for now, he calls home.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Character/Pairing: Luka and Josip "Joe" Kovac
Prompt: O7. General:Beginnings
Word Count: 474
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers to Season 13
Summary:Luka spends some time alone with his new son.
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.
He had dreamt of this moment so many times, but he had never really thought he would see it come to pass, and now, here it was, here he was. Standing in the darkness with his newborn son in his arms Luka couldn't help thinking of his first two children, the two he had lost so many years before.
"Josip...Joe...do you know how much we wanted you? How much I wanted you? " He asked the questions in Croatian, knowing it would be the first of many such conversations the two of them would have.
"Do you know what a lucky boy you are, to be wanted so much?" His brushed the fine black bangs off the boy's forehead only to find the image of another child coming to his thoughts with the act.
"You look so much like your brother did at your age." Tears formed as he made the comparison, knowing as he did that one would never know the other.
"His name was Marko...do you remember me telling you about him in the hospital, and about your big sister Jasna? I wish you could have a chance to know them, that they could know you, but they went away a long time ago." He lifted a hand to wipe away his tearsas he spoke.
"I want you to know about them. I need you to know who they were and what they were like." He moved over to the rocker and took a seat, then settled his son in the crook of his arm before offering him the bottle that sat on the table beside it.
"I want to tell you about Marko's sense of humor, and how Jasna loved to dance. They had a different mama then you do, she's with them now, taking care of them so they won't be alone. Her name was Danijela, I told you about her too, about how beautiful she was. She loved to sing to Jasna and Marko, she would sing them to sleep with lullabies, I wish you could hear her sing, not like tata sings to you. They're in heaven now, and they're your angels Joe, the ones who watch over you when mama and tata can't, like when you're sleeping, so you never have to be afraid. "You're such a lucky boy to have so many people to love you and watch over you." Leaning his head down, he shifted the bottle enough that he could place a kiss on his son's forehead as he finished speaking.
"You are such a lucky boy, Joe, but, not as lucky as I am, because you've given me the chance to be that one thing I never thought I would ever be again. This is the beginning of so much for you. I won't disappoint you Joe...I promise you that.