Monday, December 29, 2008

December Prompt: 004. Good things come in small packages /Creative Muses

Small Packages

"Want me to give him his bath?" Luka glanced up from where he sat on the couch as Abby started gathering Joe's toys and dropping them into a nearby basket.

"No, that's okay, I've got him, you look like you could use the rest anyway." The day had been long for both of them, but, more so for Luka who had been forced to pull an early morning shirt due to his lack of seniority at the Boston Hospice.

"It hasn't been too bad, he's more worn out then I am." gesturing to where Joe lay on the floor, Abby couldn't help but laugh. Not quite ready to admit to being ready to quit, the toddler lay on his side by the Christmas tree, his head resting on one arm as he drove one of his new cars around in front of him.

"It's been a good day, hasn't it?" Without thinking he patted the spot on the couch beside him, inviting her to join him.

"Yes, it has." Seeing how contented Joe was, and knowing how close they had come to losing everything because of her mistakes while he'd been gone, Abby hesitated only a moment before taking the seat beside him.

"We made the right decision, didn't we, leaving everything, everyone we knew to start fresh?" Luka slid his arm around his wife, drawing her closer with the question.

"I think so." Abby bit her lower lip, considering for a moment if she wanted to say more, or simply to let him talk. Finally, as the decision was made, she took one of his hands before she laced her fingers with his .

"Luka, can I ask you something?" Instead of looking into his face as she spoke, her gaze remained on Joe.

"Sure, what is it?" Whether he was picking up something in the tone of her voice, or her manner, Luka wasn't sure, but, he found himself inwardly bracing himself even as he gave her permission to continue.

"I'm just curious about something, and if you'd rather not talk about this, I'll understand." She wasn't sure why she gave him a final chance to withdraw his permission, though if she had to come up with a reason she would probably attribute it to the rocky ground their relationship was setting on at the moment. Did she dare jeopardize the gains they'd been making by digging into things that really weren't her concern?

"Abby, it okay." Luka reached over to touch his wife's chin with his free hand, bringing her head up so that she had no choice but to look at him.

"It's okay, really." Once he had her attention he dropped his hand to cover the other.

"Luka, you never talk about your children with Danijela, and maybe it's none of my business, I just wondered." Abby's words trailed off as she struggled for the best way to say what was on her mind. When he showed no sign of stopping her, she continued.

"I was just wondering, when you look at Joe, does he remind you of Marko? Does he look like him, or have the same personality?" The longer she spoke the harder it became to look at him and by the time she finished her eyes were back on their hands.

"Joe, come to Tata." Luka wasn't quite sure why he called his son to him. Abby's questions were not ones he hadn't asked himself, in fact he had asked himself far tougher ones, and there would likely be many more as the boy grew into manhood. Joe had already passed his first milestone, and while he hadn't said anything to Abby about it, it had felt like a weight had been lifted from him when Joe had moved from 18 to 19 months of age. There would be yet another of course, and he knew the fear of history repeating itself would hang over their heads until Joe successfully marked his 6th birthday.

"Up, Tata." At Luka's invitation, Joe scrambled to his feet, grabbing a couple of the cars he'd been playing with before joining them at the couch. Once he was lifted up, he wasted no time in crawling onto his father's lap.

"Those are kind of tough, physically, they don't look anything alike. Danijela was dark like I am, so both of our children were dark as well." With his son settled, Luka slid his arm around him and kissed the top of his head. As he forced his thoughts back to his wife's question he idly ran his fingers through the boy's hair.

"Marko was just starting to walk, and he was talking very little, but, he had no trouble making known what he wanted." As the memories of the small boy who lost his life so many years before were unburied, Luka's voice grew quieter.

"He had one of those smiles that filled his face, and a way of laughing, it was almost like it filled him up and then over-flowed, he'd start giggling and you couldn't help but join him." The memory instantly brought an image of the small boy to his thoughts.

"Tata, cry." It wasn't until Joe touched his cheek that he realized that tears had followed it and he swiped at the wetness before kissing his son on the top of his head.

"It's okay, Joe, Tata was just thinking about something." He glanced over to Abby and offered her an apologetic smile.

"I guess it's a little harder then I thought." He wiped again at his eyes before gathering Joe into a hug as the toddler turned fully, clearly bothered by what he was seeing.

"Luka, we can do this later." Abby no sooner started to speak then she was interrupted by Joe.

"No cry, Tata, no cry." Luka tightened his embrace on his son, then kissed him again before addressing Abby.

"I want to tell you about him, but, you're right, maybe later is better. Thank you, Abby." Leaning toward her he gave her a kiss before boosting Joe up to his shoulder.

"How about I give Joe his bath, then we'll read him his story and we can talk about Marko after he's gone to bed, is that all right?" As he settled on his father's shoulder, Joe slid his arms around the man's neck.

"Go, bed?" The question came quietly, more for Luka then Abby.

"Yeah, after your bath." Luka kissed Joe again as he waited for Abby's response.

"That's fine, I'll go start the water, bring him up when you're ready." Abby leaned over and gave first Joe, then Luka a kiss before standing.

"I'll get his pajamas too, see you in a few minutes, and thank you, Luka." The image of Luka and Joe was one of those she knew would stay with her for a long time, he was meant to be a father. If she had ever had any doubt of it, she only need watch him with his son to know that of all the things he was, this was what he was most meant to be, more then a doctor, more then a husband. She could only imagine how losing his first two children must have affected him, and while Joe could never replace them, he had given him that gift of fatherhood back again. In a way, Joe had given him his life back. Who would have thought that good things could have come in such a small package?

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