Monday, December 31, 2007

Prompt 211: Old Aquaintance/Theatrical Muse

Part of the reason behind my leaving Croatia was that too much of who I was, wasn't so much who I was, but, rather who we were. The friends I'd had in college, easily became Danijela's friends, and once she was gone, it was like building a puzzle and always knowing it would never again be complete because there would be a hole in the picture for the piece that had been lost.  I guess I decided it was easier for me to stop building that puzzle then to keep looking at that incomplete picture, and, as hard as it was for me to turn my back on the friends who wanted nothing more to be there for me in my time of loss, I did just that.

I suppose in a way it was for that same reason I avoided going back home for visits, that and the fact my brother and I hadn't exactly seen eye to eye on my leaving in the first place.  While I was convincing myself my leaving was my chance to start a new life, my brother Niko, saw it as running away, and me the coward for not staying to face the life that now lay before me.

I wonder if it wasn't fate that intervened on that day that Gordana called me asking for my help in finding treatment for a Croatian boy whose care was beyond that which the doctors in Croatia could provide. Thinking back on it now, I'm sure if she hadn't I likely wouldn't be here now.  I was in the middle of a downward spiral, drinking too much, sleeping around.  My carelessness had cost a patient his life and almost taken that of a co-workers, and I still hadn't learned my lesson. I was looking for a way out and I wasn't afraid to take others with me in the process.

It wasn't just fighting my way through all the red tape to get the permissions we needed to treat the little boy, or listening to all the excuses of why money was more important then the child's life. Once Gordana was in Chicago for those short hours, I could almost pretend I was the person she remembered me as. I should have known the feeling wouldn't last. The longer we talked of the life we had shared all those years before, the more I realized that the person she knew, the person Danijela had married had died with her. I don't know if Gordana was surprised to find out I hadn't stayed to learn the outcome of the boy's surgery, but then, she didn't know what an expert I'd become at running away, and if it wasn't for what had happened to me in the Congo I might be still be running today.

 

Sunday, December 30, 2007

January Prompt 1:lovers in a dangerous time/ineffable fandom

"Mama...make them stop." Jasna's cry rose in pitch as the gunfire in the streets intensified, her hold on her mother tightening equally. 

The sound of sniper-fire and mortars was nothing new, but, familiarity didn't ease the fear of her children or her own as she worried over a husband who might be caught in the middle of it. He'd only gone out to the market for bread and cheese, he wouldn't be gone long.  As she reassured her daughter she kept her eye on the front door, listening for the sound of footsteps that would finally bring him safely back to them.

These were the times she hated the most, the times when she lived in fear that he might not come back to them.  She should be used to it after all these months, these were the daily dangers they lived with, the risks he faced when queuing for water or food for them, when going to work. The dangers that forced them to hold their children prisoner in the apartment, with only a dark hallway to use as a playground. If only she hadn't been so stubborn when he had asked her to leave, but, how could she have lived without him?  What kind of a life would they have had if they were apart?

 

Prompt 42A: What is your favorite holiday memory? /Canon Muses

Maybe because it was the last one I had with them, but, I remember Marko's first Christmas so strongly. It was his only Christmas he knew. We were in Vukovar already, away from our families and we didn't have much money, but, we had gotten a small tree for Jasna and Marko so we could wrap their presents and leave them under it for a few days before. Just small things, a doll for Jasna, a stuffed bear for Marko, some fruit and candy. We'd saved for weeks so Danijela could make fish the night before and we could have turkey and other special foods for Christmas dinner. It had snowed that morning so everything was buried under a blanket of white, we took the kids sledding during the day, then after dinner we all went to Christmas Mass. I remember holding Jasna in my lap afterward while Danijela held Marko, they had opened their presents and we were just watching the lights on the tree. I remember thinking how beautiful they looked and in that moment I couldn't imagine that our life could be any more perfect.

I look back at it now and I can't help wondering if it was that way because God knew he would be taking them away from me and that was his gift to me. Even if it isn't true I like to think that might be the reason.

1.88.3 A: Borderline Personality Disorder/Realm of the Muse

I can't get the blood off my hands.  It doesn't matter how much soap I use, or how hot the water is.  It doesn't matter how hard I scrub, I can still see it.

It was supposed to be one of those nights you remember with fondness, it was our first date, and I thought it had gone well, if only we hadn't decided to walk along the water.  In an instant everything changed.

I remember feeling something heavy against the back of my head and then nothing until I woke to Abby's scream and the rough feel of cement against my cheek.  From there it was like I had no control of my actions and I might as well have been standing outside myself watching a movie. All I could think of was saving Abby, protecting her as I hadn't been able to protect so many in my life.

In an instant I was on the man, pulling him off her, before I turned him to face me. I didn't need any words, I couldn't have found them had I wanted them. I hit him, over and over and over again and even when I heard the sound of his skull cracking, saw the blood, I couldn't stop myself.  I had to protect Abby.

You don't want to believe that you're capable of such rage, but, there it was, staring me in the face even after Abby was able to get me to stop.  Watching them work on him, I knew there was no hope, he might as well have been dead on the pavement where he had fallen. 

Don't touch me.  It doesn't matter that he hurt me, that he might have hurt Abby had I not stopped him, I don't want your sympathy.  I'd been out of control and I'd killed him.  Now someone else would mourn a loved one's loss as I had mourned mine for all these years, and still I can't get the blood off my hands.

 


 

1.87.1 F: Silver Bells/Realm of the Muse

Silver Bells
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling
of Christmas

Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner
you'll hear

"Busy day for him." Niko kept his voice quiet as he spoke, the sight of his brother with his sleeping son in his arms, one he wasn't ready to see interrupted.

"Busy day for all of us." Luka shifted slightly in his chair, before returning to the soothing act of rubbing Joe's back.

"It was a good day, Luka." Pushing off the doorframe, the elder of the Kovac sons moved to take a seat in their father's chair.

"How could it be a good day?" Luka's voice held disbelief as he began to respond.

"We buried Tata, Joe's separated from his mother at a time when he needs her the most. My wife started drinking again because I abandoned my family..." His words drifted off as they failed him.

"It was a good day because we came together as a family for Tata. Luka, I know we've had our differences over the years, I know we didn't always agree with Tata's treatment, but, we put all that aside today." Niko's voice remained low as he spoke.

"I'm sorry Abby couldn't be here with you, I'm sorry Tata never had a chance to meet her and your son, but, he sees them now, he sees them with you, and he knows how much they mean to you, how much you love them and they love you." He paused, and in that moment of looking up at his brother he caught a glimpse of him much younger, and though his look was the same, his family was larger.

"Luka, you were meant to be a husband and a father and Tata was so happy for you when he learned that you would know that feeling again. That never changed because he hadn't met them. If he wanted one thing for you, this was it, and now, everyday from this one forward he'll be with you, just the way Danijela and the kids have always been with you." Niko found a smile surfacing even as he fought to hold back his own tears.

"I've always been jealous of you, maybe that's why I was angry at you for leaving when you did. I wanted so badly to have what you had, and now, I see it in you all over again." His smile faded, as he finally put to words the resentment he'd held onto for so many years, and that which had caused the rift between them.

"You've been given a gift Luka, a gift that I still can only dream of, and I envy you that, but, if anyone deserves it, you do." Niko finally paused to let his words settle, and for several minutes the only sound in the small room was that of of the Christmas carol playing on the radio. It was hard to know what his brother was thinking, the wall that the other had built up to hide his emotions seemed to be wrapped tightly around him as he held his young son.

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
Home with their treasures

Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all this bustle
you'll hear


"Luka, as hard as it might be for you to do, it's time you started looking to the future instead of always living in the past. You have so much to look forward to, trust me, everything is going to work out with you and Abby, you have too many angels watching over you for it not to." It didn't surprise him that Luka remained silent as he finished, or that he seemed to hold his young son that much tighter. What did surprise him were the tears that wet his cheeks as his head rested against Joes, and he couldn't help but wonder if God's newest angel weren't already working his magic on both of them. Looking past his brother, Niko found the night skies brightest star, only to whisper.

"Merry Christmas, Tata." Yeah, it was a good day.

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Prompt 16.6 Candle/Writers Muses

There are so many mixed feelings surrounding this year's Christmas celebrations, and while I want to make the holiday something that Joe will remember with happiness, I still can't deny the sadness that is here as well. It's not just the reminders of those long gone, the sense of emptiness the day brings when I think of Danijela and our children and all the Christmases they never saw. To those losses this year we'll add the more recent loss of Tata, the only comfort coming in knowing that he and Mama can at long last be re-united. Watching Joe's joy as he helps Niko and I decorate the tree, I can't help too but feel Abby's absence, and I can only imagine the pain she must be feeling at not sharing in all this. I know that she needs this time to discover what it is in her that allowed her to undo all the gains she had made in controlling her addiction, but, it doesn't make her not being here any less difficult. It doesn't make her any less missed.

I think of what is still to come for this evening, from the traditional fish dinner which we'll share with friends of Tata before returning home to open presents with Joe. The last will be the hardest I think, if only because it will bring me closer to Danijela and our children then I have been since I laid them to rest. I can't say when I last attended a Midnight Mass, for too many years I let my anger at God eat away at my faith, going so far as to deny that it even remained. I can't do that anymore, and in the time since I'd found out my father was ill and even more since his death, I have found a strength in it that has allowed me to go on when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and grieve for the loss of him.

The Mass tonight will be a first for Joe, but, hopefully not his last. I know now that I want Joe to feel the comfort of the Church that I knew as a child, and to know that God will be there for him should he need him to confide in. As I light candles for those no longer with us, for the first time in too long I will call up their memories with joy, sharing them with him, so he will know those that he carries with him even if they will never meet. I want the holiday to be about more then just the giving of gifts, I want this to become a time of remembrance, and of love. Something that Joe will look forward to year after year, and in time, a tradition that he will share with his own children. When the last hymn has been sung, and the last of the candles is extinguished, I can't think of a better gift I could bestow on him that.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Prompt 210: Crystal Ball/Theatrical Muse Challenge

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about any one thing you wished ~ concerning yourself, your life, the future, or anything else ~ what would you want to know?

I never thought I would experience the hardship of being a single parent, but, in some ways, the life I'm living now is very much like that.  Having come back to Croatia with Joe and knowing that Abby can't be a participant in this part of our lives makes me realize how hard these past months had to have been on her.  Knowing she was doing the same while I was tending to my father, if only we had talked more about what was happening, maybe things wouldn't have gotten to where they are.  I don't know that it would have changed anything, that it could have changed what was meant to happen to us, but, I can't stop thinking that it couldn't have hurt.

It's different being back in Croatia now, having the responsibility of my son's care in my hands. For so many years I avoided coming home because the memories that came with the visits were always ones of sadness and loss, but now, I can't help but see things with completely different eyes, for my son, I have to.

I used to pray that I could forget the past, all the memories of Danijela, of Jasna and Marko that used to haunt me in my waking hours, that visited me through nightmares. Having Joe here now, taking him to places I shared with those long gone, I now find myself clinging to those same memories, hoping that through them that one day he can know the brother and sister he will never be able to meet. How is it that someone so small can undo so much pain and loss in such a short time?

It's been sixteen years since my world fell apart and I had all but given up on ever knowing happiness again.  Now, here I am, back where I started so many years before, and as hard as it is for me to admit to anyone, especially myself, I'm scared. I know too well how unfair life can be, and the thought of history repeating itself is something that can leave me clinging to the toilet bowl as dry heaves tear through me. I wish sometimes, that I could peek into a crystal ball, if only to steal a glimpse of what the future might hold. Never for me though, whatever happens to me can happen, if I could see for Joe, to know he was going to be happy in his life, but, mostly, to just knowhe would always be safe. That would be enough, I don't need to know any more then that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Prompt 38A. Who is your best friend? /Canon Muses

For the longest time I refused to allow myself to make friends, I didn't dare let anyone get close, because if they did they might ask questions about my past and I couldn't risk that.  It was for that reason that I decided to become, what they here call a moonlighter, when I got my Greencard and was licensed to practice medicine in the United States.  I saw moonlighting as safe, I worked a day or two, maybe a week at most in any one place and then I moved on, no one noticed me me enough to ask about my life, no one bothered to ask about my past. As difficult as it was being in a country so far from everything I knew, and more importantly so far from everyone I knew. I thought I would spend the rest of my life hiding from my past this way, and then I found my way to County.

It took me some time to open up to those at County, and I won't say that once I did that things always went the way I would have liked.  I think maybe that Abby and I rushed into things our fist time together, and when we broke up we did it in a way that was meant to hurt the other.  It's funny though, as much as we thought we wanted to be apart, it turned out that what we really needed was time to learn to know each other as friends.  Over the years our friendship has grown stronger and I can honestly say that Abby is and always will be my best friend and confidant. Our marriage and the birth of our son seems daily to strengthen what we have and where once I chose to spend my life alone, these days, I can't imagine my life without her.

 

 

Prompt 39A. Have you ever hurt someone and secretly felt good about it?/Canon Muses



I'll never understand what part of a man allows him to stoop so low as to beat a woman or a child.  I can't deny that I have a temper, neither can I deny that there have been times when my inability to control it have made me regret my actions. My having beaten a man so badly to have caused his death is proof of that.  It doesn't matter that I felt at the time that Abby's life was in danger, it doesn't matter that I very likely could have been killed myself had the blow he dealt me with the pipe been more exact.  What does matter is that I had no right to take his life, and that's what I did, all because I lost control.

I wish I could say I learned from that mugger's death, but, I know had Brian been in front of me in the moments after I saw what he did to Abby, he too would have been dead, regardless of the consequences to me. As it was, even though I went looking for him, enough time had passed that I was able to keep control of my temper for long enough not to kill him.  It didn't stop me from beating him, neither did it stop me from threatening to take his life if he ever so much as went near Abby again.  I never told Abby that I went after him, I can't say if she ever found out, all I know is she was safe, and that was the point of my doing what I did.  To this day I don't regret my actions, and given the chance I wouldn't change them, you don't hurt women, you don't hurt children, and if I can prevent someone from that, I will.

 

Monday, December 17, 2007

Prompt 15.6 One Word Prompts: Home, Secrets, Rage, Bruises, OR Remembrance/Writers Muses

"Luka, will you be all right down here alone while I put Joe to bed?" Abby stopped at the foot of the stairs, their son in her arms as the two entered the apartment.

"Go ahead, I'll be fine." His voice held little emotion, numbed both by pain and pain medication. It was his first time back in the apartment since the the night he had arrived home to find Curtis Ames holding his wife and son at gunpoint, and now, with the trauma of his kidnapping, and the surgery to his hand behind him, he was home again.

As Abby took Joe upstairs the silence of the room seemed to wrap itself around him and as much as he tried to fight it he felt an inexplicable sense of fear rising. Cradling his bandaged hand to his body, he moved away from the door and across the room, only coming to a stop as he reached the window on the opposite side. 

As he stared out onto the street, he wasn't sure what he expected to see, certainly not Curtis Ames.  Those final minutes on the rooftop had guaranteed that.  When Curtis Ames had taken his life, he had made sure that every moment they had spent together up to including that when he had taken his life, would forever be etched in Luka's memory. So, why now was he still feeling what he was in his own house?  He drew his arms tighter to his chest, unable to shake the chill he felt as the events of the past day were revisited.

Despite what the man had thought, he had done everything he could for Curtis Ames, how dare he do this to him and his family. The sudden surge of rage caught him off guard and for a moment he could almost forget the pain he'd been left with, almost, but, not quite. The physical wounds were ones that came with demons of their own, not the least of which was the uncertainty of whether the damage to his hand might strip him of his career as Curtis Ames felt he'd been stripped of his. The answers were ones he wouldn't find tonight no matter how hard he searched for them, they would only come with patience, and time, and once they did, he would discover if he coped with them any better then Curtis Ames had his. It was a test he wasn't sure he was ready to face.

 

 

 

Luka Kovac/General Bonus 01: Twilight

Luka Kovac/General Bonus 01: Twilight
Title: Two Steps Forward, one Step Back
Character/Pairing: Luka Kovac
Prompt: General Bonus 01: Twilight
Word Count: 334
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers to Season 14's 300 Patients
Summary: Niko tries to get Luka to open up about what happened in Chicago, and instead reopens old wounds.
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.



"You want a beer?" Niko nudged the door open with his elbow before stepping out onto the porch, then offered the bottle to his brother.

"Thanks." Luka took the offered drink with little enthusiasm.

"Did you put Joe to bed already?" Without waiting for an invitation, Niko took a seat on the step below where his younger brother sat, deliberately avoiding eye contact with him in the process.

"Yeah, he was worn out."  He took a pull off the bottle before picking at the label with his thumbnail.

"It's starting to cool off, going to have to get out heavier coats." Following suit, Niko took a drink off his own bottle before shaking his head.

"I don't want to talk about the weather, Luka."  He released a quiet sigh before continuing.

"Are you going to tell me what happened in Chicago, why Abby didn't come back with you?  She's your wife, Luka, she should be here, it insults Tata that she isn't." Niko's words held the slap of emotions held back too long.

"Don't start, Niko, this isn't any of your business." Luka pushed himself up out of the chair he was sitting in with enough force that it slid backward, struck the wall and tipped over but, he paid it no mind.

"What, you're going to run away again, like with Danijela?" If Niko had meant for his words to sting, they served their purpose, and Luka whirled on him, his silhouette now framed with the twilight sky as his backdrop.

"This has nothing to do with Danijela, I can't believe you even went there." With a wave of his hand to indicate he was through with the argument, Luka stormed back up the steps and into their father's house, letting the door slam behind him.  Both men knew the argument was farfrom over, it had been years in the making, with heated words thrown on both sides, two steps forward, one step back, the healing would come with time.

Luka Kovac/ER General Bonus 04: Tomorrow/10 ER Fics

Title: Mama's Gone
Character/Pairing: Luka and Josip "Joe" Kovac
Prompt:General Bonus 004: Tomorrow
Word Count: 288
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers to Season 14 "300 Patients"
Summary: Luka helps Joe cope with Abby's absence
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.

"Mama..." It wasn't the first time that day that his son had asked for his mother, and as Luka hoisted him to his shoulder he could do little more then comfort the boy as he waited for him to adjust to her absence.

"Mama's not here, Joe...I'm sorry." Luka rubbed the small boy's back as he carried him through the quiet house. How did he even begin to explain all that was happening?  Never-mind that there was so much here for him to get used to, and it wasn't just not having his mother when he called for her. It was the unfamiliar language, all the new people he was meeting, and being away from everything he knew as well.  

"Mama..." The small boy's voice broke as his tears finally began, and his father tightened his hold on him, bringing his full attention back to comforting his son.

"I know you miss her, Joe, and I wish she was here but, she can't come right now." There was no way he could explain to Joe what Abby was going through, anymore than she'd been able to explain his absence, all he could do was distract him.

"How about we go outside, you want to play with your ball?" He offered the distraction as he grabbed the toy and handed it to the child as he carried him. 

"Ba." As he saw the toy, Joe reached for it, the absence of his mother temporarily forgotten.  It wasn't an ideal solution, but it would do for now, and tonight, or tomorrow, when Joe again asked for his mother he would find some other way to handle things. Until they were once more a family, they had no choice.

 

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Luka Kovac/General Bonus 05: Hollow /10 ER Fics

Hard to Say Good-bye

"Tata? Why are you still there? We're waiting for you, Tata, aren't you coming with us?" Luka reached out to his young daughter as she called to him, trying to catch her hand in his before she turned away.

"Wait, Jasna, wait for me, Tata's coming." Without a thought he lunged for the small girl as she started to move away, only to find himself rudely pulled from the dream as he sprawled on the floor beside the cot he now claimed as his bed, his daughter nowhere in sight. Releasing an anguished groan, Luka buried his face in his arms, that which had only moments before been so real, now clearly nothing more than another dream.

She wasn't here, none of them were, the reality struck with a clarity that immediately brought tears with it, and for several minutes he could only lay there on the rough wooden floor and grieve for their losses.

"Luka, are you all right?" The voice preceded the rap on the door, and even as the question was asked, he knew the man outside wouldn't dare enter before permission was given.

'No, yes, I don't know." Brushing away the betraying tears, he climbed to his feet and turned the knob on the door, opening it only enough that it would signal his consent and nothing more before he went back to sit on the bed.

"I brought you some soup." Easing the door fully open, the older man entered, a mug, wrapped in a towel in his free hand.

"I don't want anything." Unwilling to look at him, Luka dropped his eyes to his hands, the hands that had failed his family so badly. He squeezed his eyes shut as the unwanted reminder seemed only to taunt him, leaving him feeling even more hollow then he already felt.

"You have to eat son." He took a seat beside his student, though he allowed a long moment of silence to pass between them before he did anything else, and then he only passed the mug to the younger man.

"It'll get easier, I know it doesn't seem like it now, but it will." He touched the towel where it still covered the mug, bringing it again to his student's attention.

"Everyday will be less painful, and one day it won't hurt at all." He touched Luka's shoulder, finishing the words as he stood.

"I know you can't see past what you feel now, but you will, trust me, now, eat your soup before it gets cold." He applied a brief squeeze of pressure before releasing the younger man's shoulder. He expected no response from him and was not disappointed as he was met by only more silence as he turned and left the room. It would take time, but, like those before him, and those to come after, life would go on, and the young man would go on, their future depended on it.

 

Prompt 41A. What is your most treasured possession? /Canon Muses

As Niko and I begin sorting through the momentos that mark our Father's life, I can't help but look back on my own with emotions far different then those of which I find myself facing his. Just walking through the house, leaves me with a sense of his closeness, and it's easy to think he's only stepped out to go to the market, or to share a beer with old friends instead of passed on to that next life.

As I pack away his clothing, I know I have to find the way to say my good-byes, but, we know that and by releasing him, we're allowing his spirit to join those who've passed before him. I can't help but smile at the small reminders I find that he's kept of those he's already said good-bye to, things I hadn't known existed, from old photos to a pale blue infant's sock that I can't help but recognize as having once belonged to my son.

I wish I could say what seeing that sock means to me, but, I'm not sure I'll ever fully have the words to explain it. Since the moment my family was lost, all I've had of them was the small photo of Jasna and Danijela that I carry in my wallet, Marko has always been just a memory, and now, I have something of his. I'll never know why my father kept this to himself, maybe he didn't realize what it would mean to me, or perhaps he felt he needed it more, but, having it now, my father could not have left me a greater gift.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Luka Kovac/06. General: Whisper /10 ER Fics

Title: Sleepless Night
Character/Pairing: Luka Kovac
Prompt: O6. General: Whisper
Word Count: 516
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers:
Summary: Luka faces a sleepless night awaiting the jury's verdict in the Curtis Ames' case.
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 shifted restlessly on the bed, turning from side to side, then crushing his pillow into a ball before rolling onto his stomach and wrapping his arms around it with a frustrated sigh.  He was beyond exhausted but for whatever reason he couldn't seem to get to sleep, shifting again to his side, he propped his head on his palm as he watched Abby sleep, at least he wasn't keeping her awake.

"This is ridiculous." He voiced the words aloud in Croatian, though they were little more than a whisper, and even as he spoke he wondered for whose benefit the complaint was being made.

"I can't keep this up." Shoving the blankets aside he sat up and dropped his feet to the floor, there was no point in waking Abby, and if he kept on the way he was it wouldn't be long before he did just that.

"At least now you'll be able to get a decent night's sleep." He kept his words at a whisper as he re-covered Abby, then remained a moment longer simply watching her before leaving the room. The temptation at first was to go to Joe's room, but, he forced himself to resist it...how fair was it to his son for him to risk his waking him simply because he couldn't sleep?  Instead he found himself in the kitchen and without a second thought he pulled a beer from the refrigerator and after twisting off the cap and tossing it in the sink, he carried it to the window.

It wasn't like he didn't know what was bothering him.  He took a long pull off the bottle as his mind began to put the pieces together, waiting for the jury to bring back their verdict was taking it's toll, how could it not?  Curtis Ames was constantly in his thoughts no matter what he was doing, and even now, as he stared out the window at this hour of the night he couldn't help but admit that he half expected to see the man standing there on the sidewalk staring back up at him. 

Curtis Ames was yet another of those people who would invade his mind and force him to relive his actions over and over again.  He would twist the truth, make him question his skills, doubt his abilities, drive him to the edge and challenge him to explain why he believed that he had done everything he should have done, despite the outcome.  Tipping back the beer Luka savored the taste as it quenched his parched throat, and only as he lowered the bottle again did he finally accept the final inevitability of his internal battle with Curtis Ames.

Whatever the jury decided, however Curtis Ames or his family or the hospital itself saw what had happened to him, none of it will change what I did, or how I saw things, how I'm still seeing things.  Guilty or innocent, the fact remains that for the rest of my life I have to live with what I did, and Curtis Ames knows that better then any of us ever will.

 

Prompt 209: What are you afraid of?/Theatrical Muse

It's been a week since our return to Croatia, a week since Niko and I laid our father to rest, and while I feel his loss on a far deeper level then I ever thought I would, I find myself haunted by an even greater fear. 

When I first learned of my father's illness, there was no question of my coming back home to make sure that he had the care he needed, and while I would have liked to have had Abby and Joe with me, it wasn't possible.  Little did I realize at the time what a hardship my being gone was going to cause to my family, and especially to Abby.

When I returned to Chicago with Niko, I realized something was different, between Abby and I, and at first I thought it was merely the strain of our separation.  I guess I expected there would be some difficulties, after all, I had left her to deal not just with taking care of everything involved with the household, but, with taking care of Joe as well.  I can't really blame her for thinking that my return to Croatia might be a sort of vacation for me, a chance for me to reunite with friends I hadn't really had a chance to see in far too long, without the responsibilities she had to shoulder.  I just never imagined things had gotten as bad as they did while I was gone.

Learning that Abby had relapsed was a shock.  Even as she confessed to me that she had gone back to drinking while I'd been gone, I couldn't help feeling there was something else being left unsaid. All those years she had put into her sobriety were gone and without saying it to her, I have to wonder if there were ever a time when Joe's life had been put in danger because of her lapse.

Her decision to remain behind while Joe returned to Croatia with me is something that I still find difficult to accept, if only because I think that her drinking is something that affects all of us.  I know if Joe and I were with her we could provide a strength and stability she needs during this time.  I understand too, her wanting to focus on herself initially, but, I can't shake the fear that something may happen during this time to make her decide that coming back to Joe and I will prove more harmful to her then beneficial, and I don't know how I would ever explain that to our son.

Spending so much time now with Joe, I can't imagine ever being parted from him again, and if in fact Abby does decide that she has to make a choice between being with us and remaining sober, I think we'll stay here.  I realize what a hardship that will make for her, but I don't think I could go back to that life if she weren't a part of it, and as hard as it would be for me, it would be ten times worse for Joe.

I don't want to think the worst, and sitting here now on the porch of my father's house with my son playing nearby, I'm trying to remain positive, but, it isn't easy. As the sun begins to sink behind the clouds, and Joe crawls onto my lap I find myself wishing I could pick up the phone and call Abby, if only so he can hear her voice, and know she hasn't deserted him. Maybe that in itself is my biggest fear of all, for as difficult as all of this is for me, he's so young and all he knows is that his mama is gone, and he has no idea where she is or when if ever she'll be coming back to him.

 

ER/Luka Kovac 049 Cold/100 Situations

Title: Home Sick
Character/Pairing: Luka Kovac/Abby Lockhart
Prompt: 049 Cold
Word Count:
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: None to speak of.
Summary: Even doctors get sick.
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.

The coughing had started during the night and by morning it had been joined by a rising fever, even if Luka wasn't ready to admit it. As the phone rang he rolled over in bed and fumbled for it, knocking it off the cradle before he actually took hold of it.

"Luka, are you there?" He could hear Abby's voice even before he lifted the receiver to his ear.

"Yeah..." He released a harsh cough as he tried to clear his throat enough to answer.

"I'm here." His voice remained quiet despite his efforts.

"You sound terrible, have you been up long?" Abby's concern began to move into her voice as she questioned him.

"Not up yet, but, I need to, I'm supposed to work." A rough cough followed his reply as he answered her.

"I don't think that's a good idea, not with the way you sound. Miriam is there with Joe, there's cough syrup in the medicine cabinet, take something and try and go back to sleep." Abby found herself smiling as she imagined his response to her directions.

"It's just a cold, Abby." Luka found himself protesting despite how he felt.

"It's just a cold now, but, what if it gets worse and you give it to Joe? Think about it, Luka, I don't really want to take care of a sick baby if I don't have to, do you?" Abby swallowed her own fear as she thought about the possibility of Joe getting sick, his first fragile months in the hospital still too fresh in her mind.

"Do you want to be responsible for giving your cold to him and risk having it turn into pneumonia?"

"All right, you've made your point." Luka was forced to stop in mid-sentence as the harsh coughing once again forced stole his voice.

"Tell them I'll be in for my shift tomorrow." His words were little more then a whisper as he found them again.

"I'll tell them we'll see how you feel by tomorrow, but they may need to cover that one as well. In the meantime, take something and go back to bed, I'll bring some soup home with me for dinner."

"I will, see you when you get home. His voice was going and with each series of coughs, he found another layer stripped away. Replacing the receiver in the cradle he dropped his feet to the floor, all he wanted now was to take something to ease the cough and to go back to sleep. As he got to his feet, and found himself wracked by yet another barrage of coughing he wondered if even that was going to be possible.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

1.86.3 C. Trial by Jury/Realm of the Muse

The Waiting Game





It's an experience I never want to repeat, not just because of the mistakes that led to the worsening of Curtis Ames' condition, but for having to try and defend what I do to a group of people who can't possibly understand what it's like. When a patient comes into the Emergency Room we have to make life and death decisions on their care, within minutes of a person's arrival at times. 

When Curtis Ames entered the ER, he presented with symptoms of what at first resembled a simple flu.  Yes, his condition was complicated by dehydration and possible pneumonia, and his decision not to be admitted to the hospital as a patient, but, I had no reason to think it would become more then it was.  It's not normal for patients to spend the amount of time he did in the ER, and while it may have seemed to him that I was neglecting him, I was in fact keeping informed with what was happening on his treatment as I worked on patients who were in far worse condition then he was.

Sitting in that Courtroom, it was hard not to lose my temper as I listened to Curtis Ames and his lawyer twist the truth about what had happened during the time he was under my care.  Then, when I tried to explain the truth, I'm the one who is at fault for not simply answering the questions being asked of me.  What is so wrong with me wanting the jury to understand why things happened the way that they did?

When the case finally went to the jury I didn't know what to expect from them, looking at their faces that last time before they left for deliberations, all I could do was wonder who in their eyes was the more believable.  Curtis Ames had tried to influence their decision of course, that final day he'd arranged to have his ex-wife and children present, he needed them to see the family that had been impacted by my actions.  I chose to go the opposite direction, and I think if I'd had the choice I wouldn't have even been physically present, what was the point, I'd said what I'd done, nothing could change that no matter what took place in the courtroom. My fate was in their hands and all I could do was wait for their verdict.


 

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

14.5. Talk about a time when you were truly alone./Writers Muses

I had lost all track of time, I only knew that I was exhausted, my son and my wife were already gone, and if I stopped breathing for her, my little girl would join them. The smoke was everywhere, burning my eyes, choking me, a by product of the small fires that still burned in the ruins of what had been our apartment, and which offered the only source of light and heat. I couldn't remember when I'd last heard the sound of anyone else, I'd long ago given up calling for help, my throat was raw, I had to save what breath I had left for Jasna and in the end I failed her.

I don't think I understood how lonely I could feel until that moment when I realized that I had to stop. When I raised my mouth from my five year old daughter's and knew that she would never again laugh, she would never again smile, she would never again take another breath. As I closed her eyes, and looked down at her, for a few minutes I could pretend she was sleeping. Ultimately, I couldn't deny the truth, I would never again feel her arms around me, I would never hear her voice call my name, like my wife and baby boy, she was gone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Luka Kovac/ER 008: Obstacles/10 ER Fics

Title: The Decision
Character/Pairing: Luka and Josip "Joe" Kovac, Abby Lockhart
Prompt:008 General Bonus: N/A
Word Count: 381
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers to Season 14 "300 Patients"
Summary: Luka and Abby talk about what is to come.
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.

"It's never going to be easy for us is it?" Luka's words were the first to break the silence that had settled around the couple.

"I don't know." Abby shook her head as she answered, then reached over to run her fingers through Joe's hair. How was she going to do this without them?

"We can do this as a family, the three of us, you don't have to be alone." The fear of losing her was in his voice despite his effort to conceal it.

"No, I know what I said, but, it's not true, not in that way anyway." Abby paused, sniffing back tears she was determined not to shed.

" Abby, I know my being gone hasn't made things easy for you, we could go bury my father and then come back and work on this together." He was stopped by a shake of her head before he could finish.

"I would love to have you and Joe with me, but, I can't do it that way, I have to be the one to do this." She reached for one of the passenger's to Joe's plane, anything to keep her from seeing the hurt on her husband's face.

The room fell again into silence as Luka started to protest and then stopped himself, why did they have to face so many obstacles in their relationship?

"Can you put mama in the plane, Joe?" She handed the figure to her son before finally forcing her gaze back to her husband.

"Luka, please, tell me you understand." She brought her hand to rest on his as she made the request of him.

"I'm trying, Abby, I'm trying." He let his head drop so that it came to rest against hers, as the room once more fell silent except for the sound of Joe as he played in front of them.

"We'll miss you." His quiet words finally broke the silence, then a brief smile formed before he kissed her.

"I'll miss you too." Abby returned his kiss before settling against him to watch Joe play, drawingstrength from Luka as his arm curled around her. No more lies, no more sneaking around, this was the beginning of the life they should have always had, the life they all deserved.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

December Prompt 002. resilient /Creative Muses

We buried our father today. Niko and I, with my son Joe in my arms, had come home to say our good-byes. I wanted so much for him to meet his grandson, for Joe to have a chance to know his grandfather, but, it wasn't meant to be. We stood there at our father's grave, among his friends, and despite the sadness we felt at his loss, we couldn't help but be touched by the love that those present felt for him.

My father's house is quiet now, both my brother and my son long ago gave into the sleep that I am still resisting. As I sit in my father's chair I can still feel his presence and it's hard not to believe that any minute the door will open there he'll be and I'll awake to find the news of his death was nothing more than some horrible dream.

Niko has decided to keep the house as our father left it, and I can't help but wonder if that's going to make things more difficult for him. There are so many memories here, reminders of those that have passed before him. That's always been the difference between Niko and I however, where I fled from the reminders, he drew them closer, clinging tightly to each as if they were pieces of a puzzle.

I wonder what traits Joe will embrace as he grows older, will he carry only what he sees in Abby and I or will I see some of my father in him? I think back on all we've been through, what we continue to go through even now, and I pray he is half as resilient as my father was. I pray that he will forever see the good in people instead of the bad. Most importantly, I pray that he will know that his greatest strength will always be found in family, and in times of trouble he should turn to them, not away from them. I only wish I had learned that sooner.

December free choice prompt: April 002 Exile/ Artistic License

002. "I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope." --Aeschylus

I didn't ask to end up in the camp, I didn't have any choice in the matter.  When Vukovar fell to the Serbs it was chaos, soldiers were everywhere, they were within minutes of over-running the hospital as a lucky few of us made our escape.  I didn't see myself as lucky then, I was deserting my patients, running away from those who chose to stay with them. I think for a long time I even saw myself as a coward.  After all, I survived when those who stayed didn't.

I was wounded during my escape and after several days on the run, exhaustion and blood loss caught up with me, I was ready to give up, I was ready to join my family. I was found by some aid workers in a ditch not far from the road, they were the ones who took me to the camp.

In the beginning I didn't want to live, I'd had enough. I'd managed to keep going after losing my family, now I had lost everything else, what was the point? I spent almost two weeks under medical care before being moved into the general population, but, even then I hadn't yet accepted my fate.  I clung onto my guilt as if it were a lifeline that could somehow lead me back to the life I had lost, while those around me were looking with hope toward the future they saw beyond the tented compound. It would take me a long time to get where they were, a very long time.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Prompt 13.2: Drinking and stupidity/Writers Muses

2. After a night of heavy drinking, you wake up and realize very probably have done something you wouldn't have done in a million years. What is it and how do you deal with it?

It wasn't the beginning, it wasn't the end, I wish it had been, Rick would still be alive, and Erin well, so much with her would have been different, but, I'm getting ahead of myself.

It was around Christmas about five years ago, Abby and I hadn't been together for a while, in fact she was with John then, and I wasn't handling it very well.  I told myself that all I wanted was for her to be happy, but, what I really wanted was to be where John was, and that wasn't going to happen.  I never should have gone to the Christmas party, it was a mistake, and I only set myself up to make things worse by starting to drink as soon as I got there. I don't know if I had noticed it before that night, but it became clear to me after Abby and John left that Erin wanted my attention, and I'd had enough to drink by then that I guess I was willing to give it to her.

When it came time to go home I should have just left, I don't know what I was thinking, I don't know if I was thinking, I let Erin take me home.  I don't know how much I had to drink, Abby said later she thought it was a few dozen beers, maybe she was right, not maybe, probably. However many it was, it was enough to make me do things I wouldn't normally do. I know now that Erin was only making sure I got home safely, I was in no condition to drive myself, and had it not been for her I might well have tried, I repaid her by making a pass at her when we got to my apartment.  Nothing happened from it, Erin simply brushed my advances off and made sure I found my way safely to my bed. I wish I could say that was the end of it, but the worst was yet to come.

I wasn't supposed to work the day after the party, I never would have drank, and certainly never would have allowed myself to get drunk, had I been scheduled for a shift.  Even when Abby called and said Weaver wanted me to come in I tried to refuse.  I was in no shape to handle patients, I was hungover, I needed to sleep, instead I was threatened with the loss of my job if I failed to drag myself in, so I did. Because I didn't stand my ground I made mistakes I never would have made that day, because I was hungover, Rick Hendricks lost his life, and his family was forever robbed of the wonderful young man I met that day. As if what I did to Rick wasn't enough, I ended up repaying Erin for looking out for me by almost killing her later that day when my reckless driving caused me to crash my car.  

I never visited Erin the entire time she was in the hospital, what was I going to say to her that would make up for what I had done? There wasn't anything, I knew that.  I saw her one more time after that night, I signed the paperwork that would allow her to pass her ER rotation, as if that made up for everything, then she was gone, I've never seen her again.

I wish I could say that over time I've found a way to forgive myself for what I did to those I harmed that day, to the one whose life I stole away, but, I can't.  My actions that night and into the next day were part of a downward spiral that lasted too long, and had I not gone to the Congo I very likely would not be here now.  I can't undo what I did, but, I can try each day to make sure it never happens again, and I don't think anyone can ask more of me then that.

 

 


 

Prompt 40A: My Parent's Saying/Canon Muses

One of your parents said something to you that you'll never forget. What was it? Was it positive or negative?

"We only part, to meet again."

These were the words my father left me with with I first decided to leave Croatia. Words that I in turn bestowed on Carter when he made the decision to leave County for Africa and the life he hoped he would find with Kem.

It wasn't that my father was happy about my decision to leave Croatia, but, unlike Niko, he understood that I needed to do it in order to find the life I was sure no longer existed there without Danijela and my children.

I remember so clearly that day at the airport, I think we both had tears in our eyes, though we were both trying very hard not to cry in front of the other. He grasped my hand firmly and he said, "We only part, to meet again." He then kissed me on each cheek before pulling me to him in a tight hug. I think I knew then, without his saying it, that no matter what decisions I made in life, my father would always stand with me, and nothing seemed more important then that in those final moments before we parted ways.

Prompt 208: Four/Theatrical Muse

A small black and white picture, for years it's been the only thing I've had to remind me of the family I lost a lifetime ago.  It was taken at Jasna's birthday party, the year she turned four, we had no way then of knowing it was the last she would ever have, or that the picture of the birthday girl and her mother would be the only reminder of a family lost too young to war. 

I can't tell you how many times I've held that small photograph in my hands over the years since it was taken. In those early years it brought me sorrow, more for the one who wasn't there then for those that were, for I never had the luxury of even that small a reminder of my son.  Later, I found myself using it as a way of sharing my life with them, I guess I thought that somehow by talking to it my words might find their way to them wherever they were.

I don't find myself relying on the photograph as much these days but, that doesn't mean I miss those captured in it's image any less, they like Marko will always be with me, a part of me. Who knows, one day there may come a time when I may frame the photograph and hang it on the wall, but, not yet, no, I'm still not ready for that, for now, I still need to keep them close to me.

Prompt 207: Control/Theatrical Muse

I became a doctor to help people, I do it every day, so, why is it when it comes to those close to me that I seem to be unable to do anything but watch them suffer or even worse, to watch them die? Is there some lesson that I'm supposed to be learning from the challenges that those around me seem to be continuously subjected to?

As difficult as it has been to release myself from the guilt I've felt at failing Danijela and Jasna, I had begun to do just that. There were so many factors that went against me during that long night while I fought to keep breathing for my daughter.  Factors that I had no control over despite what I might have thought at the time.  There was a war going on, I was young, I was inexperienced, I had nothing I needed to give them the care they deserved, how could I possibly blame myself? But I did, still do in some ways, just not as much as once was the case.

I think back on Joe's birth and the helplessness I felt standing first at Abby's side and then later, watching over him in the NICU.  So often over those early days and weeks I found myself wondering what had been the point of all my medical training if there wasn't anything I could do to help him. If I could have traded my life for his, spared him any measure of the pain his tiny body was subjected to, I would have done so in an instant, but, yet again it was out of my control. All I could do was watch over him a pray that those entrusted with his care were the best they could be.

I don't think I was ready to hear that my father was sick, I know I wasn't ready to hear he had cancer, I was so sure we would have more time.  When I first went back to Croatia, I spoke to his doctors, and while it was clear that I couldn't take part in his actual care, at least I knew he was getting the best treatment money could afford.  I had to believe I was doing everything possible for him in order to free myself of the guilt I knew I would hold over myself if I thought I didn't.  When the doctors told Niko and I that he was doing better we believed them, and I thought it was safe to come home to Abby and Joe, to let them meet my brother and I was so certain when we returned they would both be with us.  How could I be so wrong?

My father died last night, and tonight Niko, Joe, and I are on a plane back to Croatia without Abby, it shouldn't be like this, but yet again, things are beyond my control.  Abby told me tonight that she'd started drinking again, I want to blame myself, if I hadn't left her alone, if I had been there when Joe had fallen, I would have seen the signs, but, the blame can't be all mine to take.  Abby took responsibility for her own actions tonight, so, while Joe and I go back to Croatia with Niko to bury our father, Joe's grandfather, Abby is checking herself into rehab.  These next several weeks will be a time of healing for all of us, and I can only hope that when the time comes for us to unite we will find ourselves stronger for the work we have done.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Prompt 2: My love/Muse Erotica

MUSE WRITING PROMPT:
Close your eyes.
Imagine your next sex partner.
Describe them.



Luka held the receiver to his ear long after Abby had said her good-byes and hung up on her end. It was hard being so far away from her and Joe, hard to hear her describe how much their son was growing and be unable to witness it for himself. His first steps, his attempts to master his first words, there was so much happening in his life, and he was so far away.

As much as he missed Joe while awake, with sleep he found his thoughts more and more turning to Abby, and a smile crept onto his face as the memory surfaced. He had been gone for too long, and though she hadn't yet said so, she was beginning to worry that he might not come back to her. How could he not?

As he squeezed his eyes closed, her face instantly came to him. Raising his hand, he could almost imagine he was touching her face, sliding his fingertips along her cheekbones before he cupped her chin to pull her close for a long overdue kiss. He would release her then, but only for as long as it took to make eye contact, and to tell her how much he loved her. The image seemed only to grow stronger as he encouraged it to reveal even more details and he would almost swear it was his reality as he felt the softness of her hands in his.

Drawing Abby close, he released her only long enough to slip his arms around her waist, how could he have ever seen her as anything but beautiful? Lowering his head to hers, he gave her another kiss. As her lips met, his hands moved off of her waist and he began coaxing her sweater upward, revealing the pale skin beneath. At the vividness of the scene a shiver ran through him and when he brushed his fingertips across her breasts he was sure he could feel the goosebumps rise beneath them.

No, not like this, as difficult as it was he forced himself to put a stop to the dream, it wasn't right. Getting to his feet, he began pacing his father's house, how much longer would he be forced to choose between them? How much longer would he be forced to place his duties as a son before his needs as a husband? How much longer?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Prompt 12.5: Revelation/Writers Muses

My father died tonight.

I should have been there at his side, we should have been there at his side, Niko and I, but we weren't, we thought he had more time, and because we were wrong, he died alone.

I wish I could say I knew what I felt, but, the shock is too fresh, and all I can think of is going back to Croatia where I can't help feeling I should have been all along.

The feeling is one that leaves me sick to my stomach because on one hand I am bearing the guilt of having abandoned Abby and Joe for those months that I had already been gone, and on the other it will mean leaving them yet again.

My father was my last real tie to the land of my birth, he was the one who gave me the strength to go on when I lost my wife and children. When I realized that I couldn't stay in Croatia, he was the one who gave his blessing to my leaving, even as my brother Niko accused me of running away.

I wanted so much for my father to know my son, his grandson. I wanted him to have the bond with him that he'd only tasted with Jasna and Marko. I wanted Joe to know his humor, I wanted him to feel his hand as he shared his knowledge with him, and most of all I wanted him to know the love that Niko and I felt as we grew up.

You don't realize how strong your ties are to family until you lose them, I'm seeing that more now, not just because of my father's death, but, in what I've gained by repairing the rift that had existed between Niko and I for so many years. I'm glad my father saw that, I know it was something he had prayed about for far too many years.

I'll hold onto my father's lessons to share with Joe as he grows older, and I'll make sure both my brother Niko and the land of my birth play important parts in his life as well, but none so important as the newest angel he has watching over him.

I love you Tata, and I'll always miss you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Prompt 11.2 Crossing the Line/Writers Muses

Prompt 11.2. Write about crossing the line. Talk about going beyond what even you would deem as acceptable behavior.

We all make mistakes, we do things in our life that we're not proud of. Things that given a chance to undo, would never have happened, and then there are those things of which we are truly ashamed.

My encounter with Marlene's mother was one of those. During a time when I was drinking too much, and living too fast, my behavior with her is so clearly etched in my mind as having been unacceptable that even after all these years I can remember the name of the child whose trust I violated but not the woman with whom I chose to have casual sex with while her daughter sat alone in an exam room.

I can't even begin to try and explain the dark place that my head was at during the months that led up to that incident, but, I can tell you that I reached a place far, far worse.  I can also tell you that because of the path I chose to embark upon I put other people's lives at risk and in fact was responsible for the death of at least one due to my negligence.

If I hadn't gone to the Congo when I did, if I hadn't experienced all I went through during my time there, I don't know that I would even be here now.  How do you thank people for giving you back your life?  Patrique's sacrifice was the greatest of all, for he gave his life to save mine.  Sakima was willing to put my life before not just before her own, but her daughter's as well. Finally, there was John, despite all of our differences over the years, he was willing to drop everything to go back and try to find me, all the while believing I was dead.

I don't know that I will ever fully understand what motivated each of them to do what they did, how Patrique for example, made the decision that his life had less value then mine. All I know is that had they not seen that which I couldn't, and then found a way to save me, I wouldn't have been given the chance to start over again, and for that I'll be forever grateful.

 

Prompt 185.1. Write a fic about the best gift you ever received for the holidays./RotM

If you had asked me this last year I would have said it was the news Abby gave me that she was pregnant.  I admit, neither of us knew for sure what it meant for our relationship, and as much as I might want another child, I couldn't force her into carrying one if she didn't.  I knew about her fears of being a mother, her fear of carrying the illness that her mother and brother shared into her child even though it had spared her, can I blame her? I never wanted Abby to think I only wanted a child as a replacement for those I had lost, and it seemed important that these and all of our other concerns be worked out between us, so there was never any question as to why we wanted the life that she carried within her.

We made it through those months, and whatever lingering doubts we had vanished as soon as we saw his face, in that moment I knew it didn't matter if there were no more children between us, he was all we needed to be complete as a family.  As fate would have it, complications with Joe's birth will keep Abby from carrying anymore children. Those early months of his life were so difficult for all of us, and there were times when I was afraid he wouldn't survive, but, he beat the odds, and today he's healthy, and happy,

So, if you were to ask me that same question now, I would say it was Joe himself, for in giving me my son, Abby found a way to give me back a part of life I thought I would never know again, and I can't think of a greater gift than that.

 

November prompt 004. Knee jerk reaction/Creative Muses

I killed a man with my bare hands. Even now, years after having been cleared of the responsibility by the police, my own guilt remains. It doesn't matter how many years pass, the memory of that night can surface in an instant and the feelings it brings with it are enough to drive me into a depression as dark as any in my life.

It wasn't like I woke up on that particular day and said, "Today I'm going to kill someone." I didn't plan for it to happen. How could anyone have planned for something like that to occur?

It was Abby and my first date, and it should have been one of those nights that we would remember forever as one of happiness, but, it never will be, all because of how I reacted in that one split second.

I don't know that I even knew I was capable of the level of violence that found it's way into me that night, but, it was there, lying in wait just below the surface, waiting.

The mugger that night, woke something in me that I wished I had never knew existed, and once unleashed it cost him his life. When I saw him struggling with Abby all I could think about was stopping him, and once I had hold of him I couldn't stop myself.

I'm not sure if I would have reacted differently had he not attacked Abby, and I can ease my guilt somewhat by telling myself that my actions were the result of my needing to protect her but, either way the man's still dead. In the end the fractures to his skull and the injuries to his brain were too severe, he never made it out of the ER.

Self defense, that was how they excused my actions. A man was dead, beaten to death, and they were okay with that because he had hit me with a pipe before I repeatedly pounded his head into the pavement. I wish I could wash my hands of the guilt so easily.

November Prompt 005: Rose/Artistic License

As he counted out the coin to the vender Luka knew the single flower couldn't begin to make up for the sacrifices his wife had made.

They had been married almost three years and in that time they had welcomed a daughter into their lives and moved to Vukovar, leaving family and friends, as well as the frivolity of their youth far behind them. There were days he couldn't help but wonder if he'd made a mistake in asking Danijela to marry him before he'd finished school and gotten his degree. While he spent all day in classes and far too many evenings either studying or at the hospital, she was left alone to deal with not just the running of their household, but the care of their small daughter as well, and only that morning she had told him she suspected she was pregnant yet again.

She had been so nervous when she had first broke the news to him. Her fear over facing the pregnancy without the support of their family even greater then the concerns over how they could possibly afford yet another mouth to feed. What would it take for him to make her understand that he was willing to give up everything for her? In a way, maybe the rose in itself was doing that, for what it had cost him he could have bought them a loaf of bread, or a small wedge of cheese, he could have treated them both to the luxury of fresh pastries, but, this was for her, and her alone.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prompt 206: What do you live for?/Theatrical Muse

My father died tonight.  I should have been there with him, we should have been there with him, Niko and I, Abby, Joe, all of us, but we weren't.  We were here, thousands of miles away and he was there alone.  No one should have to die alone.

No one will blame us for not being there with him of course, they'll say we couldn't have known, he was doing so well when Niko and I left, it's why we thought it was safe to come to the States.  But, we were wrong.  So, while we were here, laughing and having a good time, he was there, among strangers, alone.  I should have known better, I'm a doctor, I know all of the signs, why couldn't I see them for him?

I'll never forgive myself for not taking Abby and Joe with me when I went home to see him, for not giving him the chance to see the two people who have given me back my reason for living.  I would give anything to be able to rewind time and allow him the chance to hold his grandson in his arms, even if only for a few short moments.

The death's of Jasna and Marko was something we rarely talked about, I'm sure mainly because he wanted to spare me the pain of reliving them.  I know there were times he tried to bring them up, but, I always managed to stop him, and I know for many years he worried that I would never again allow anyone to fill the void their death's left in my heart.

How do I forgive myself now for not giving him the chance to meet the woman who makes me feel the way Danijela did?  For the longest time I know he worried that I would never know those feelings again, that I would never be a husband and a father again.  Why did I go alone? Why couldn't I have taken them with me so he could have seen that the one thing he had tried to tell me was possible all those years ago, the thing I refused to believe, really had come true? 

You were right, Tata.  All those years I wallowed in my grief, all those years I wasted on self pity, you always told me there was someone out there for me, someone who would make me feel the way Danijela made me feel.  I didn't want to hear you then, especially when you told me I would even know the joy of being a father again, because I thought to know that meant forgetting the babies I'd lost. Why couldn't I have said these things to you when you were alive? Why, do I always learn the lessons too late?

 

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Prompt 1: first time/Muses Erotica

(OOC...This is a revision of a post that I wrote for Ineffable Fandom.)

As he looked into her eyes, it was still hard for him to believe they were finally married, they had waited two years for this day to come and now it was here. Looking into her eyes he couldn't help but wonder if there were any woman more beautiful then she was at this very moment.

"I love you Danijela Kovac." He lowered his head, brushing his lips against hers as he whispered the words to her.

"I love you too...my husband." There was no mistaking the slight tremble in her voice as she lay under him, her fear at the newness of it all still outweighing the expectation of what was to come.

"You are so beautiful." He threaded his fingers through the curls along the side of her face as he spoke.

"You know that I knew from the moment I saw you I wanted you for my wife." He kissed her mouth again before moving down to the hollow of her throat.

"Ah..." She released a slight gasp, she could already feel her body beginning to respond to his attentions in ways she had never known it could.

"How would you know that before we had even spoke?" She ran her fingers through his hair, before pulling him closer with an accompanying moan.

"I knew, you were the most beautiful girl there, even in your school uniform." He released a quiet laugh before placing the next of his kisses between her breasts.

"Then why did it take you more then a week to even ask me to sit with you for coffee, hmm?" It was becoming far too difficult for her to concentrate on his words.  When his tongue circled the nipple of one breast she moaned and whatever else she might have said was forgotten

"I was waiting to talk to you alone." Luka gave the nipple a soft bite before raising himself up on his forearms, a smile spreading across his face before he dropped his head to capture her lips yet again.

The give and take continued as the young couple explored each other's bodies. They had waited two years to become man and wife, two years to be together in this the most intimate of ways, they were in no hurry for this night to end.

 

 

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Prompt 182.3: Self discovery/Realm of the Muse

I ran away. If you had asked me then I would have denied it, but, it's true. I hated my life, hated the man I had become, and this seemed a way to escape. I tried to tell myself I was going to the Congo to help others but, even if I wasn't ready to admit it, in truth I was looking for a place to hide. Chicago had become too dangerous for me, too dangerous for those around me. Erin, Rick, how many more would have suffered injury or death if I hadn't left when I did?

Life in the Congo allowed me to escape into a world I hadn't realized existed. In the beginning nothing really changed for me, I worked my shifts, and once I was finished, I would drink until I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open, or until I found someone to fall into bed with. I'm not sure that I deliberately taunted death, but, I know I didn't do anything to avoid putting myself at risk, or those around me for that matter. I know I didn't see any of my actions clearly until after Carter and Gillian left Matenda, and by then it was too late. Sakima, Chance, Patrique, all of them were ready to put there lives before mine. Patrique went so far as to give his for me, and it wasn't until I thought it was my turn that I even realized, the gift I had been wasting.

It wasn't until I returned to Chicago that I really had a chance to realize how much I owed to each of them, how much I owed Carter for coming back for me. I think I knew then that I had to change, I owed it not just to Patrique's memory, but to those who had survived. They had to have seen some worth in me that I had lost sight of, and now it was up to me to find it again, to re-claim those missing pieces so I could once more become whole. I owed it to them, but, more importantly, I owed it to myself.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November Prompt 3: Love Eternal/ Ineffable Fandom

It was an anniversary he could have done without, especially now, what with having been gone so long, he needed to be able to give Abby and Joe his full attention, but he couldn't not with the date looming so close. A reminder that always came as a mixed blessing.  He had expected this year to be worse than years past if only because of his having gone back, but nothing like this.

It had been impossible not to go back to those places that he and Danijela had enjoyed all those years ago. Impossible not to search the faces for the one he hoped he would find among so many, even as he knew she would never be there.  Even with all the changes in the City he had still found so many reminders of her.

He was home now, back to his wife, his son, he had missed both of them more then he had thought possible, and yet he found his thoughts repeatedly returning to Danijela. How did he begin to explain to Abby, the rekindling of emotions the return home had brought for him? 

There had never been a time when his love for Danijela wasn't with him, he knew that, their love was eternal, they had known that from the moment they'd met, but, did Abby understand? She'd accused him once before of being married to a ghost, and he hadn't denied it because in his heart he had known it was true, Danijela would always be his wife, no matter how many years she was gone.

After fifteen years he would have thought it would have gotten easier, but it never did, and maybe that was his punishment for being the one to survive. So, he would do as he always did on this day.  He would go and light candles for all three of them, offer prayers of remembrance for the woman who had first captured his heart and the children who'd never had a chance to know life.

 

 

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Prompt 36 A: What is your greatest strength?/Canon Muses

"How do you do it?" John Carter looked like death warmed over as he approached, his eyes red rimmed, his clothing rumpled.

"Do what?" Luka Kovac immediately reached for the other doctor's arm.

"Let's go in the lounge, we can talk there where it's more private." Once they were inside he sat two coffee cups on the counter.

"How's Kem?' With his back to the other man he finished filling the cups, then carried them over to the couch.

"Not good, neither of us are, I don't think we can get through this." Carter picked up he cup closest to him as Luka sat it down.

"You will." The Croat's vote of confidence came quietly.

"Because you did?" John didn't mean for his words to come off as harshly as they did, but the bite was still there, in them.

Luka released a slow breath and sat his own cup back on the table before turning to fully face the other man.

"John, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's going to be easy, because it's not." Raking his hand back through his hair, Kovac took a moment to search for the feelings in himself that he worked so hard to bury, feelings he knew he would need if he were to help his grieving friend.

"It hurts so much." Carter's voice broke as he spoke, and tears began welling in his eyes.

"I know, I wish I could say one day it won't hurt, but, I can't." Luka reached over and firmly gripped the other man's shoulder as he continued.

"I can tell you that some days are better then others, and eventually you'll find a way to bury the hurt away, and move on with your life." He felt the tremble under hand, but it was to late to stop.

"But, you'll always have that raw spot, that emptiness, and nothing anyone can do or say will change that, so, all you can do is grieve.  Over time you'll find that is taking less and less of your day and that's when you can start looking forward again." When Carter's shoulder's sagged and the tears finally fully broke, Luka knew the conversation was over and all he could do for his friend in those moments was hold him, and so he did.  While he had conquered his own grief, what Carter was going through now was his alone, and all he could do was stand by him as his friend. If only he'd had someone to give him that strength in Vukovar.

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Prompt 10.1 Photographs and Memories/Writers Muses

Photographs and Memories

by Jim Croce

Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these to remember you
Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day, when I called you mine

"Do you Danijela Viljac take Luka Kovac to be your husband?" Sitting here now, in my father's house, all these memories come flooding back. You were so beautiful, and after waiting so long, you were finally mine.  It's like a dream.  Even with you standing there in front of me, I still can't believe that the time we have talked about for so long has finally arrived.

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh, how I loved you then

The memory of waking to you in my arms on our first morning together.  You were still sleeping, and I remember thinking I had never seen you looking more beautiful then in that moment before you opened your eyes. When you woke up, you laughed at me, you kept saying how awful you looked, but you didn't, not to me. All I could think of on that morning was of the lifetime of other mornings we would have together.  I couldn't know then, that for us our lifetime would only last five years.

Summer skies and lullabies
Nights we couldn't say goodbye
And of all of the things that we knew
Not a dream survived

You gave me such beautiful babies, did I tell you that enough?  Jasna, she would have grown to look just like you, I know she would have.  I remember holding her on that first night we brought her home, she was so tiny, and I was so afraid that I would hurt her.  You were there though, with your soft words, and lullabies, and together we raised her to be a daughter any parent would be proud of. She loved Marko so much. We had so little time with our baby boy, I regret that so much, and it's a guilt I still struggle with after all these years.

Photographs and memories
All the love you gave to me
Somehow it just can't be true
It's all I've left of you

How can I ever apologize enough for not listening to you when you wanted to leave, for not realizing that nothing was as important as what we had between us?  You already knew that though, it's why you wouldn't leave.  You could have taken Marko and Jasna and gone to your parents, or mine, but, you didn't, you refused to leave for me, for us, for what we had between us, and it cost you all your lives.

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh, how I loved you then

I don't want to remember those times though, not now, not here.  Here I can can remember how it was in the beginning, when we were young, when we thought we had our entire lives ahead of us, when we still believed that love was the thing of fairy tales.  Only here can I find those memories.

 

Sunday, November 18, 2007

One Photo/Canon Muses

A. You keep a photo album of memories from your life. If you could only keep one photo, what would it be? 

(Continued from Theatrical Muse prompt #205)

"It's hard to believe you've been gone so long." Luka's words came quietly, and if Abby or Niko were to overhear they might very likely think he had someone in the living-room with him despite the lateness of the hour.

"It was so hard going back, Danijela."  He tried to smooth one of the ancient creases out of the small black and white photograph as he held it.

"It seemed everywhere I went there was a reminder of our life before Vukovar."  He found himself pausing as if he were somehow hearing his wife's words of response before he continued.

"I know, it's been twenty years, and so much has changed, but, so much stays the same, in a way, too much stayed the same." He touched the tip of his finger to his lips and then to hers as if he could transverse time to actually reach her.

"The coffee-house is gone, but I went to our church, and the park.  Danijela, I spoke to the Priest, I'm still struggling with re-finding my faith, but, I know I will find my way back to what I had, what we had.  I want Joe to know the comfort that the church and faith can bring him, that it brought to Jasna and Marko." His voice broke forcing him to stop yet again.

"I want Joe to know about you, and about Jasna and Marko, you'll watch over him for me, won't you, take care of him, like you took care of our children when they were small?"

"Luka?" Abby's voice interrupted his conversation with his first wife.

"Look after them both Danijela, I miss you so much, and I love you all." He finished the conversation in an almost inaudible whisper before pocketing the photo as he rose and went to her in response to her call.

"You couldn't sleep?" She slipped her arms around his waist as he reached her, concern in her voice and on her face as she accepted his kiss.

"Jet-lag I guess, I didn't mean to wake you." He offered the apology quietly.

"You didn't, now, come back to bed." She took his hand before coaxing him back toward their room.

"I'm so glad you're home, Luka." Abby slipped comfortably into the embrace he offered in response.

"I'm glad I'm home too."And as he said the words he knew truer words he could not have spoke.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Prompt #205: Talk about a moment in which you wished you had a camera/Theatrical Muse

I'm finally home again. How do I even begin to describe what it feels like after being gone for so long? For too long. Seeing Abby at the hospital, you would have thought we had been separated for years instead of only a few months.

A few months, I say that as if it is nothing, but in Joe's life it may has well have been a lifetime for how much he has grown. As I sat with my brother Niko tonight and looked through the album of photographs of him taken since I've been gone, I realized how very much I had missed.

Now though, in the darkness of the too quiet apartment, when everyone else has long ago retired to their beds, and sleep eludes me, I find those same photographs coming back to haunt me. I know it's not really the pictures of Abby with Joe that are the problem, and without even realizing I've done it, I find the small black and white of Danijela and Jasna joining the album on the table.

It's so unfair. I have so many reminders of Abby and Joe, and when it comes to those I've lost, I have one single photograph. Even now as I pick it up I can't help but notice how badly the years have treated it, from the frayed edges, to it's dog-eared corners, I know each one far too well, for it's all I have of them to hold onto.

I try to call up memories of Danijela and the children, hoping that they might somehow fill the sense of emptiness that I'm feeling, but, more and more, all that comes to me are the moments of their deaths. Why can't I remember the happy times?

I find myself wishing I had the power to go back in time, if I could somehow capture forever the moments that meant so much. The first time Danijela and I kissed, the moment I asked her to be my wife, the first time I saw her in her wedding dress, and the moment she said "I Do." There are so many other times, and I flip through this album in my mind, only to find it's pages blank...Jasna's birth, her first smile, her first words, her first steps, and then the arrival of our son, Marko, my sweet, sweet Marko. It's so much harder with him because he was with us for such a short time.

I look at Joe now and I can't help but see Marko in him and I find myself wishing I had just one photograph to lay beside one of Joe's. One small picture, so that one day I might say, this is your big brother, he would have lovedyou so much. I can still remember how Jasna was with Marko, and I know she would have doted on Joe too.

One day I'll show him her picture, and I'll tell him that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

181.2.i: Cope/Realm of the Muse



"Abby? Can you hear me? I'm sorry, the connection isn't very good, how's Joe?." Luka pressed his cheek against the phone as he moved through his father's house.

"I can't believe he's walking already, I wish I could be there with you both, or you could be here." Picking up the her most recent letter from the stack of mail that sat on the table he quickly tore it open.

"I have it here." A smile quickly replaced the expression of sadness that had been on his face as he discovered the photographs that his wife had included with her note.

"Oh, Abby, he's getting so big." He flipped through the other pictures as he listened to her voice on the other end of the call.

"I wish you had sent one of you together, but, if all goes well with the construction, I should be home within a week, a week and a half at the most." He shook his head as he heard her sigh of frustration.

"Abby, I know, if I could leave sooner I would, but, we have to make sure Tata can get around on his own if he needs to...Abby, don't, I'm sorry, it's not that I don't want to, I just can't just leave this to Niko to do alone." He hated the sound of the anger that washed over his words, but, was powerless to stop it.

"I promise, as soon as I can leave I will. Kiss Joe for me, I love you too." He held the phone for a moment more as the call ended, they would get through this as they had gotten through so many other obstacles that had been placed before them.

"Only a little while more." He whispered the words as if she still might hear even though the call had been severed.

"Stay strong for me Abby, stay strong for Joe...I know you can do it, our love will help you cope with whatever happens, all you have to do is believe in yourself as much as I believe in you." He wiped the tears away before setting the phone back in it's cradle

"Just believe." He whispered the words a final time as he closed his eyes and pictured Abby in his mind, all he could do was hope she could cope with whatever happened until he got back, hope that she could stay strong, for herself and for Joe.  He was powerless to do anything more.


 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Prompt 35A: Who is your worst enemy? Why?/Canon Muses



I sometimes think I'm my own worst enemy, or I used to feel that, if only for the fact that I seemed to sabotage everything in my life that was working out for me. Relationships, my career, if I could derail them I would find a way to do it. I don't know, maybe I still do.

The first time Abby and I were together, you would have thought everything was perfect between us, but it wasn't, it couldn't be, she knew that even if I didn't.  How had she put it that night?  I was married to a ghost? It was true.  It didn't matter that Danijela had been dead for almost eight years at the time we were together, in my mind we were still married and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was cheating on her when I was with someone else.

I had tried to open myself up to someone else before that, but it hadn't worked. As lonely as both of us might have been, I don't think either of us were able to walk away from those who still held our hearts.  For Carol it was easier, her love was still alive and in the end she made the decision to go to him instead of waiting for him to come to her, I couldn't do that.

Danijela was the first woman I had ever been with, she was my first love, and for far too long I had told myself that I could never possibly find anyone to equal what I had with her.  Maybe that was part of the problem between Abby and I when we were together the first time, I wanted so much for things to be the way they had been with Danijela, and they couldn't.  Danijela and I shared everything, Abby and I nothing, we might have been strangers for all we knew of each other's lives and I think that was the start of our downfall.  That and my love for Danijela.

I don't know why I decided to stay in Chicago, it had always been easier when I moved from place to place before anyone had a chance to wonder who I was or where I came from. I decided to do this though, I decided to allow people into my life, into my past, and while I knew it wouldn't be easy to change after so long, I never expected it to be as hard as it has been either.

Over the years that Abby and I were apart I tried everything I could to destroy my life, even going so far as to chase death in the Congo. I became my worst enemy because I hated the man I'd become and I had lost sight of the man who had married Danijela all those years ago. I'd like to think I'm finding my way back to him, or at least to a version of him who has made room in his heart for more than one love.  I know I no longer hate who I am, and for a long time I couldn't say that, and I think I couldn't ask for a better start then that.

 

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Prompt 8.3: Insomnia/Writers Muses

It was hopeless. Luka threw back the worn quilt before sitting up and dropping his feet to the wood floor. The house was dark, but far from silent, and for several minutes he simply sat, listening to the sounds of his father's house. He hadn't wanted to leave the hospital, but, it hadn't made sense for both he and Niko to be there all night, and he knew that despite their personal differences, if anything happened his brother would call.

So, why couldn't he sleep?

The springs of the bed squeaked as he stood and when he wandered into the kitchen he found his ears picking out a familiar sound from his youth. As it's chime announced the quarter hour, he spotted the mantle clock that his mother had been so proud of, a wedding gift that she had received from her parents on the day she had left their home. The memory was another of the bittersweet ones that seemed to haunt him since his return, and as successful as he had been with keeping them at bay during the daylight hours, by night they besieged him.

He hadn't told Niko about his insomnia, there really wasn't a reason to, with all the differences between them it wasn't as if he could confide in him about anything like this. He ran his hand over the clock's smooth finish before walking away from it, the image of his mother sitting at the table polishing it easily coming into his thoughts. If only all of the memories that came were ones that brought a smile with them.

After grabbing a beer from the refrigerator Luka spent the next hour walking the rooms of the small house, picking up and putting down the small trinkets that sat on the shelves and tabletops. So many reminders of his mother even after all the years she'd been gone, a luxury he'd never had when it came to remembering his own family. Without even realizing he had done it until it was out and in his hand he fingered the small black and white picture of his wife and daughter.

So many of the memories stirred by this place were of things long gone, the thought lingered as he found himself in front of a picture of he and Niko as boys. Even something as simple as the friendship between two brothers had been battered and crumpled by war, then further left to fester as both of them had said things they neither could take back. Now, almost fifteen years later they had to decide if they were strong enough to salvage what they once had, or would that relationship or at least what remained of it, die with the death of their father.

Tipping his beer back, Luka found a bitterness in his mouth that he knew shouldn't exist. He didn't want to admit that his father was dying but experience told him it wouldn't be long. When had the man who had once seemed so robust become so frail? His shoulders sagged and he felt the tears he'd been fighting to hold back beginning to gain strength, soon it would only be he and Niko, the choice was his, did he really want to lose him too?