(Set in 2004/season 10)

He hadn't been sure what to expect from his arrival back at County. Despite the time he'd spent in the clinic in Kisangani, he was still weak, the Malaria, while starting to come under control, still robbed him of strength he didn't have to spare. If he'd had his way, he'd have gone straight home as soon as they'd arrived in the City, but, even knowing Gillian had flown back with him hadn't been enough for them to budge on his admission. Whatever arrangements that Carter had set in motion in the Congo seemed unbreakable and so, here he was, at the mercy of the doctors and nurses entrusted with his care during his recovery.

As he lay in the hospital bed, he'd almost convinced himself that the worst part of being back was dealing with all of those who kept coming by to see how he was. Each time one of them knocked on the door, he was forced to face reminders of his behavior before he'd tried to find his escape in the Congo, even if they never brought it up.

Today though was different. For some reason the symptoms of his malaria had worsened through-out the night and despite adjusting his medications to counter the changes, they'd so far seemed to have little effect. With his immune system already compromised, a "No Visitors" sign was placed on his door, so, with the exception of his doctors and the few nurses assigned to his care, he would be left alone. Alone, with only his thoughts for companionship, in his eye the prospect was almost as dangerous as dealing with all of his well intentioned visitors.

"Good morning, Dr. Kovac, I hear you had a rough night." As she entered his room, his nurse, Elyse approached his bed, moving first to refill his pitcher with fresh water before continuing.

"Morning, yeah, pretty bad." Even as he answered Luka found himself struggling with the worsening symptoms.

"Can you tell me what all's been going on?" Pulling a small tablet from her pocket, she readied herself to take notes on his complaints.

"It started about 7 or 8 last night, just, um, headache and chills for starters, oh, um, yeah, I guess dinner didn't stay with me either, but, I didn't think it was anything to worry about at the time."

"What about now?" She quickly jotted notes about his complaints on the pad then raised her eyes to him as she waited for him to continue.

"I'm tired, and still have a headache, kind of hard to focus on specifics, I feel congested too." As he relayed the short list of his complaints, Luka knew that he was fighting even more that he hadn't mentioned.

"Let's get your vitals, and I have a couple of pills for you to take. Someone will be in to draw blood too so we have the results before the doctor comes in to see you." Setting her notes aside, she started first with his temperature, then pulse, and blood pressure. As she finished she tucked his blankets around him.

"Do you need another blanket?" Her concern for his deteriorating condition crept into the question and before he could answer she had already retrieved one from the closet.

"I'm okay." While he tried to wave off the woman's fussing, she, clearly was not to be swayed and after covering him, she took a few more minutes to tuck the sides around him.

I want you to try and rest, I'm going to call the doctor and see if he can see you sooner. I'll be back to check on you in a little while. I don't want you getting out of bed on your own, so, if you think you need to get up, use your buzzer. I'll leave a basin here on the bedstand, in case you can't wait, all right?"

"Yeah." As nice as the nurse was, it was almost a relief when Elyse left, he wasn't sure how much more of the hovering he could handle, and he didn't want to hurt her feelings since she likely didn't even see it as that. Truth was, as the morning progressed he was finding the similarities to how he'd felt in the clinic too close. As his brain made the connection he grabbed for the basin and within seconds was at the mercy of his purging stomach, by the time it subsided, his shirt was damp with sweat, and it took all his remaining strength to simply return it to the bedstand before retreating under his blankets. He needed to try and sleep, but the continued pounding of his head was making that almost impossible, and despite the instruction to call if he needed anything, he knew, there was little that could be done except for him to ride it out. As his stomach rose yet again, he snaked a hand out to secure the basin. On second thought, maybe he'd be lucky and die first.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 832

How were they supposed to make a decision like this? Their families were here, Jasna wasn't even two, and still, he was expected to take them away from everyone and everything they knew so he could go to school in Vukovar. He'd brought them to the beach as a treat, a way of making up for all of the hours he'd left them alone already. At least here Danijela could call her sister or mother when she needed company, or when the baby became too much for her, at least here she had her friends.

Watching the two of them now as they stood at the water's edge he couldn't help but feel selfish. What right did he have to demand so many sacrifices of them? Maybe he should talk to Danijela about staying behind, she and Jasna could move in with either of their parents, and as hard as it would be to be away from them, he could go to Vukovar alone. How long would they be separated, a few years? They'd have a lifetime to make up for that, and in between he would find a way back to visit as often as he could.

"Luka, aren't you coming down to the water?" Danijela's call drew him out of his thoughts and he looked up in time to see his daughter running to him.

"Yeah, I'm coming." Shaking off the remainder of his concerns he rose and scooped Jasna up as she reached him, holding her high over his head as she squealed her delight. The discussion would be there when they they got home, today was meant for happier thoughts. As he settled the toddler on his hip he gave her a kiss.

"Ready for a swim? Let's go see Mama." His smile broadened as he reached his wife and as soon as he embraced her it was as if his earlier worries were nothing more then smoke, gone with the wave of a hand. As he lowered Jasna to the sand he was sure whatever decision they made would be the right one, they were meant for each other, they'd known it from the moment they'd met, and nothing could change that.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 362


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