An ER Fanfic following the "Bishop Stewart" arc



Keep it light, keep it non-threatening, Angelique found herself having to repeat the reminder to herself as if it were a mantra as they ate, no, she amended, as she ate. More than once she had found herself coaxing Luka into another bite as he'd picked at the burger on the plate in front of him. When he finally pushed it away from him with less than a third of the burger eaten she'd decided the battle was lost and she surrendered to him with only a mild frown to reflect her displeasure.

The conversation throughout the meal had centered on the present, the lecture tour, her recently closed practice, his position at the hospital. That he wore no ring had answered her unasked question as to whether he had remarried and she'd not yet asked if he was involved. No, there would be time for those questions later when they could talk without fear of interruption, part of those things that would only be discussed in private.

He'd dropped his eyes to the cup that he'd wrapped his hands around, his mind obviously chewing on something that had bothered him in their conversation, and she chose not to interrupt. She found herself studying him more intently as the action allowed her the luxury of taking in his appearance more critically, without being obvious about it. His weariness was the most noticeable, dark circles framing eyes that still reflected a sadness she would never begin to understand, testimony to the several sleepless days that had led up to this night. The caregiver in her began to take over, he needed rest, but how? How did she tell someone whose life she had just reentered after a five year absence that he was under too much stress..and how could she even be sure that that was what was causing his sleeplessness? A far more difficult matter was whether she was ready to let him leave again...what if she sent him away only to never see him again? The odds that his fears would convince him that keeping the ghosts of his past hidden was the best thing for him were great. Added to that was not knowing whether he would be returning to someone when he left, and if he was, would that person support his hiding from his past rather then facing it? No, there had to be another way to handle things. A way for her to see that he got the sleep he needed without losing him again.

"Okay, Luka, enough is enough." Abby tossed the magazine aside for the umpteenth time that evening. She had paced and cursed, she had tried to pretend that things were normal, and she had worried that something terrible had happened to him and for what? She couldn't do this anymore, not tonight. As much as she wanted to be here when he walked through that door, the wait was driving her crazy. She fished a cigarette out of the pack she'd laid on the table before looking at her watch, 10:30, not a word from him in over 4 hours. Damn. It was too late to call the church, she needed to get out for a while. She needed to go home, shower, spend the night in her own bed, away from him to give her some perspective on things. Yeah, that's what she'd do. She rose and stuffed the cigarettes and lighter in her purse. Let Luka worry about her for a while, let him wonder where she was and see how he liked it.

Grabbing her coat she stuffed her arms in the sleeves and all the while she could feel her resolve building. This was perfect, he needed a wake-up call and this was just the way to give it to him. Something to remind him that she had been the one who'd seen him through all this. She was the one who had nursed him through the pneumonia, and the nightmares, and her payback had been to be left alone. No, if this didn't get his attention she didn't know what would. Snagging her purse from the table she slid the strap over her shoulder, then took a last look around the room. Yes, this was what she needed to do and with that she turned and headed for the door and home.

As the conversation once again lapsed Luka let his thoughts drift, the fatigue left by the previous days lack of sleep catching up to him. How had she found him after so many years? There was no doubt in his mind that if not for her intervention he would never have survived the camp. If his wounds hadn't claimed him he would have met death at his own hand to be with those he had lost again. Instead she had been the one who had found a way to reach him, she had been the one to give him a reason to heal and to live again. Had she somehow sensed that he was slipping? Had she somehow known that the ghosts were calling to him and he was beginning to listen to them again? That he was being drawn to them as he had been drawn to them all those years ago? He rubbed his thumb along a chip in the cup, searching for an anchor to the present. How could she have known how badly he needed her when even he had not known it? He lifted his eyes to find hers on him, "I'm tired Angelique." The confession came without warning, and he couldn't even say why he felt he had to tell her.

"I know, Sweetie, you need to sleep. My hotel is close by, will you come back there with me?" She hadn't known she would make the offer to him until she made it and she inwardly prayed that he would accept. At least she could watch him, be there for him if the nightmares still plagued him. The nightmares. She remembered how they had been for him in the beginning, so real that they left him trembling, unable to speak through the sobs that wracked his already weakened body. No, she wouldn't leave him alone tonight if she could help it. "It'll be all right Sweetie, we can talk if you want, and if not, I can give you something to help you sleep." At his nod of acceptance she rose, moving to offer her support as he stood. A good night's sleep, that's what he needed and then in the morning they could talk of the past, talk of what had been and maybe even the future.

To be continued...
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