"Luka, I brought you some coffee." Niko, stopped in the doorway as he spoke, giving his brother a moment to register his arrival before he entered.
"Thanks, you been there long?" Luka accepted the cup, then rubbed wearily at his eyes as Niko took the empty seat beside their father's hospital bed.
"Not too long, has he been awake at all?" His question came quietly, his voice kept low so as not to wake the man at whose side they kept their vigil.
"Not really, he was dreaming, calling for mama." Luka found his eyes staying on their father as he spoke, if only he would show some sign that he knew they were here.
"Why don't you go for a while, give yourself a break, I can stay with Tata." Niko eyed his younger brother, not sure he was liking what he was reading in the other's body language.
"Go call Tomo or Stipe, how long has it been since you talked to them? I'm sure they'd love to hear from you." As he made the suggestion, the elder of the Kovac sons took a sip of his own coffee.
"You'd like that wouldn't you, Niko?" Even as he started to speak, Luka hated the direction his thoughts were heading.
"What do you mean?"
"You'd like him to wake up and find you here alone, what better way for you to prove yet again that I can't handle things when they get difficult. I'm sure you'd even find a way to tell him I had ran away again if you could." The words came out fueled with a touch of bitterness that had been years in the making.
"I wouldn't do that, Luka, to him or you, not now" Niko's tried not to take the attack personally, the issues that existed between he and his brother were ones they would need to deal with but not now, not while their father's life hung so close to the edge.
"Wouldn't you, Niko?" Luka pushed his chair back suddenly and got to his feet.
"Luka, you don't want to do this now. I know we've had our differences, and I can't say I'll ever understand or agree with your reasons for leaving after you lost your family but, this is about Tata, nothing else." It was Niko's turn to stand and he moved over to stand in front of his brother.
"He misses you, he's missed you every day since you left, and despite what he might tell you, there are times when it feels to him like he lost you on that day in Vukovar. He'll never tell you that, but, I will, because you need to know how hard it's been for him, and how much having you back here will mean to him." Niko placed his hands on his brother's shoulders.
"Having you back may be the best medicine we can give him, so, regardless of what you might think of me, no, Luka, I wouldn't take that away from him."