It was the odd sensation of feeling as if he were being watched that woke him and as Luka came awake it was to find himself almost nose to nose with his young son as the toddler stared at him.

"Well, good morning to you, Joe." Catching him under his arms, Luka lifted the giggling child into the air as he rolled over onto his back.

"I think we are going to need to get you a crib, what do you think about that, huh, Joe?" He brought the boy closer so he could kiss him before raising him again as the child squealed in delight.

"Eew, stinky pants, I think we'd better get that diaper changed before we do anything else, then maybe some breakfast. You want something to eat, Joe?" As he asked the question he sat the boy back on the bed before sitting up himself.

"Ee, ee." While he wasn't yet talking himself, it wasn't for lack of trying and as his father spoke Joe had begun mimicking the words.

"That's right, Joe, you're going to eat, good job." He was growing so fast, if only Abby could be here with them to see. He stopped the thought before it had a chance to take root, choosing instead to focus again on his son. It would be so easy to let the darkness wash over him again, and who would fault him for it?

He had watched his father wage a losing battle with cancer only to die while he was away, and had returned home to find his wife once more drinking and his marriage in possible jeopardy. No, he would not allow the thoughts to take up residence, Joe deserved better then that, Abby deserved as much. If she had the strength to fight her way back from this how could he not do the same? How could he deny Joe the childhood he deserved because of the weaknesses of his past?

"Ee, tata, ee." The grin spread across his son's face as he reminded his father of that which he thought he might have forgotten.

"That's right, Joe, we were going to get you breakfast weren't we...but, first we need to change those stinky pants, so up we go." He scooped the boy up as he got up off the bed, they would get through this, and when Abby was ready they would go back to her. In the meantime, he would show Joe the world he grew up in, and through his eyes he would see it once more with joy instead of with the sadness that had prompted his leaving it so many years before.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 445
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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 235
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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 312
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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 302
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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 269
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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 195
"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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 424
A. You keep a photo album of memories from your life. If you could only keep one photo, what would it be?

Post continues from this earlier Theatrical Muse post.

"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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 304
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.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 637
"Are you all right?" Gillian asked the question as they entered the elevator, and Luka let his head fall back against the pillow on the gurney.

"Just tired." He cracked an eye open to look at the Canadian nurse.

"We'll get you all settled in your room, and then you can sleep." Without thinking she reached over to lay her hand on his forehead, testing for an increase in the fever that his malaria carried with it.

"Sleeping too much." Even as he voiced the complaint he knew there was little else he could do until he got stronger.

"Is it hard being back?" Gillian wasn't sure what prompted the question, and she immediately regretted it as she caught the look of the ambulance attendants who stood in the elevator with them.

"I don't know, maybe." He raised his arm, only to let it fall across his eyes.

"Luka, look at me," Gillian's tone immediately changed with his action, and she waited for his compliance.

"What's wrong?" She touched his forehead again as he dropped his arm, only to frown as she met his eyes.

"It's just too bright." As if that was enough of an answer, Luka closed his eyes yet again.

"Your fever is spiking again." Before either of them could say anymore the ding of the elevator signaled their arrival at the fifth floor.

"Let's get you settled." Gillian stepped out first, then moved aside to let them push Luka's gurney into the hall, she'd brought him home, whatever came next was up to him.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 261
My father, Tata, was a train engineer, when my brother Niko and I were young and on holiday from school, he used to let us go with him. We were so proud of him. We would take turns sitting on his lap as he drove the train, pretending that we were the engineer ourselves. He would let us wear his hat, and at each of the railway crossings we would pull the chain, sure that nothing could sound as wonderful to our ears as that whistle did.

When we weren't with our father in the engine, we would run from one end of the train to the other, proudly telling everyone who would listen that it was our father who was the engineer. Looking back on it now, I'm surprised that we weren't thrown off the train by someone, as wild as we were some days. We would chase each other from one end of the train to the other, we'd be climbing around in the baggage car or getting under the cook's feet in the dining car looking for hand-outs. Those are the kinds of memories I always hoped my children would know, and while Jasna and Marko never got the chance, I pray that Joe will.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 210
I'm not sure what made me decide to take a permanent placement in Chicago, up to then I was determined not to allow myself to let anyone get too close, because getting close meant talking about my past, and I knew I couldn't do that. I wonder how differently things might have gone had Carol not offered her friendship in those early days? If I had kept the boat and headed south as the weather grew colder as I'd planned from the start, where would I be now? Even as I ask the questions I know I'll never have the answers.

I accepted the job at County before I had really decided I was ready to allow anyone to get close to me again, the fact I had chose a hotel as my place of residence was the first clue to that. I tried to defend my choice, it was a good deal, trading my services to the hotel's guests saved me on rent. Their laundry service and the hotel restaurant were just two more benefits, or at least that's what I told myself. In truth, it was just another way for me to keep my distance. No one gets hurt when you keep your distance.

Muse:Luka Kovac
Words: 207

Josip Kovac had been standing by the side of the road since first light despite the danger of it. Today was the day his youngest son would return and nothing would prevent him from being there to meet his bus. It had been almost three years since he had been home, and so much had changed since then, it may as well have been a lifetime ago.

As he heard the sound of an engine coming up the road Josip stepped onto the pavement for a better view, if only he knew what to expect. When Luka and Danijela had left for Vukovar they had such high hopes for what their future held. They had Jasna, their first born, Luka was entering into his residency, and now, all of that was gone.

As he spotted the bus a smile reached Josip's face, and he moved quickly onto the shoulder. As happy as he might be to have his son home, he couldn't forget that the young man was still bound to be grieving his losses. He forced the smile down as the bus came to a stop, and he readied himself for the first sight of his son. If only he knew what to expect.

The waiting had to be the most difficult minutes of his life, and as each person came through the doorway and he discovered they were someone other than his son he felt his stomach seize, what it he wasn't even here? He'd no sooner allowed the concern to surface when the fear was vanquished, Luka appeared in the doorway, far thinner than when he'd left, but finally home. He made his way to the bottom of the steps, and as his son reached the ground he pulled him close, folding him into the hug he wished he could have offered all those months before.

"I'm sorry, Luka, so sorry." He whispered the words in his son's ear as he rubbed his hand over his too thin back.

"I'm glad you're home though, and we'll get through this, I promise." After kissing him, Josip reluctantly broke his hold.

"I'll get your bag, you wait here." The older man quickly retrieved the only bag left on the side of the road, and for the first time took in his son's appearance. He was so thin, but there was more to it then that, he seemed lost...or if not lost, defeated, it was a look that no father wants to ever see in their child.

"Let's go home, Luka." Josip touched his son's arm lightly as he returned to his side.

"Can we go by the cemetery?" The words were the first Luka had spoke and they came so quietly that his father almost didn't hear them over the other sounds as they walked.

"Are you sure you don't want to go home and rest first, we could go later today?" The elder Kovac hadn't been able to ignore his son's increasing limp as they walked, but even as he tried to dissuade him he saw something in his face that told him there would be no delaying the visit.

"You're right, Luka, we should go now." He squeezed his son's shoulder before lapsing into silence, whatever he needed to get through this he would do it.

"Does it ever stop hurting, Tata?" The question came so quietly that he almost didn't hear it.

"Yes, one day, Luka, it's just going to take time." He slid his arm around his son's shoulder and pulled him close for a moment. The rest of the walk was one done in silence, both men lost in thoughts of those they had lost, wives, mothers...their losses still grieved, no matter how recent their parting.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 624
Author's Note: We have never been given specifics on the fate of Luka's mother, for this ficlet it is assumed she has passed.
I wish I could say I was one of those people who "forgive and forget," but I'm not. I think those very same things that allowed me to fall in love with Danijela at first sight, that made it impossible for me to walk away from the guilt over her and our children's deaths, are also what make it so difficult for me to let things go.

I think about the first time that Abby and I were together and the things we said to each other on the night we broke up. The words we hurled at each other that night were meant to sting just as much as any slap to the face would have. I think about the weeks and months after that night, the way we tip-toed around each other and how difficult it was for both of us to apologize.

I'd like to say I learned from the mistakes I made in my early years, but I don't know that I did, Curtis Ames has been the proof of that. Even knowing he is gone and no longer able to hurt me or my family I still find myself unable to forgive him for what he put my wife and son through on that night. I think I can live with what he did to me only because it was my decision to go with him, he didn't force me, I chose to go to save my wife and son. Do I forgive him, I don't know, but I can live with it, I have to, what other choice do I have?

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 268
There are some things you do without thought, protecting those you love is one of them. I remember as a child being told to look out for my brother and having heard him being told to look out for me. Whenever we went anywhere with friends it was the same thing, it was just the way things were done.

When it came time for me to marry it was there in our vows, to love, honor, and protect, but, I failed them. My wife, my two children, when they really needed me to be there for them I wasn't and by the time I did get there I was too late.

From our very first date the instinct to protect Abby was there. When that mugger attacked us, I didn't even think about the danger to myself, all that mattered was that she was safe. I don't even think I knew what I was doing at the time I was reacting to his attacking us, it was almost like I was outside myself, and if Abby hadn't have stopped me I know I would have killed him then and there. As it was he died anyway and the realization that I was capable of that kind of violence was something I didn't know I was capable of.

I wish I could say it was the only time my anger got away from me, but, it wasn't. When Abby was attacked by her neighbor, I went to him, it didn't matter that he was in a bar full of witnesses. All that mattered was that he knew I wouldn't hesitate to kill him if he touched Abby again.

Most recently I was willing to walk away from both Abby and our young son with a former patient of mine who had been holding them at gunpoint. I knew I stood a very good chance of never seeing either one of them again if I went with him. I also knew that if I went with him, he couldn't hurt them. They would be safe, and that was the only thing that mattered to me. There was never a point in that entire situation that I stopped to think about the value of my own life in anything, and I can't remember when I stopped placing a value on my own life. When did everybody else become more important then I was in my eye?

In the end, I was lucky, for whatever reason Curtis Ames chose to spare my life while taking his own, but, not before making me see that I could very easily become him if I'm not careful. It's not something I'm proud of.

I think I'll always see myself as a protector to my family, I think it's part of being a husband and a father, but, I no longer think it has to be at a choice of them or me. I'm not saying the old Luka will never surface again, but, I'd like to think I am more in control of him now, for the sake of my family, I hope so.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 520
From the moment I met Danijela I think I knew that every decision I made in my life from that moment forward would come second to her and then later to my children's needs. Then again, even as I say that it seems that I in turn contradict myself because when it came to the most important time in their lives for me to make that choice I failed them. For the five years I was married to Danijela, and the two years before that that we dated, the choices that we made were ones we were sure were going to better our lives, the lives of our children, and if we were lucky, we would have enough left over to take care of our extended families as well. How we looked at things was the way things had always been done. Nothing was more important than family, except perhaps your faith in God, it had been that way for our parents, and their parents before them, why would we think it would be any different for us?

I don't think either of us understood how hard it was going to be to find ourselves not just cut off from our families, but in the middle of a war-zone with no means to escape. I blame myself for putting us in the position we were in, I should have made Danijela take the children and leave when she had the chance, but she refused to break up our family, and I refused to walk away from my residency. I don't think either of us thought things would become as bad as they did, and by the time the realization was there it was too dangerous to leave. All we could do was stay where we were and pray for God to keep us safe.

He failed us, as I had failed them, and I lost them all. On that day I lost not just my belief in him, but my purpose in life as well and it took many many years for me to find my way back again. But, then I met Abby, and after some bumps along the way I've found my reason to live again. Everything I do now is for Abby and Joe and the life we're building together, and as hard as it seems at times, I'm determined not to make the same mistakes I made all those years ago.

Name: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 402
I don't know how old I was when I decided I wanted to go into medicine, but, I think I always knew that I wanted to help people and I know that what I learned from my parents had to influence that.

My mother was a very religious person, actually both of my parents were, but, my mother more than my father. When she wasn't taking care of my brother and I, or looking after my grandparents or my father, my mother was helping those within the church less fortunate then we were. I'm not saying we were rich, we never were, but, we never wanted for the necessities and my mother knew how to make the most with what little there was, and still find a way to make something extra for a family she'd heard was in need.

My father was a train engineer, when my brother and I were young he would let us go on the train with him. We were so proud of him, knowing that everyone on the train depended on him to not just get them where they needed to go on time, but for their safety as well.

As I grew older I couldn't help but learn from the lessons they taught us, and when it came time for me to choose a career, medicine seemed a perfect way to put everything into practice. I've never regretted my choice, and I can't think of a better way to honor them than by being the best doctor I can be.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 261
It was the feeling of emptiness that woke her.

"Luka?" Abby came awake fully as she rolled to her side, intending to curl up against her husband and instead finding only the coolness of long abandoned sheets.

"Luka?" She repeated his name as she pushed the coverlet aside and rose herself to go in search of him. Her first thought was that he must be with Joe, it wouldn't be the first time that their son's cries had woke one while failing to disturb the other. As she eased the door open, expecting to find father and son together she instead found Joe still asleep in his crib.

"Luka?" It was hard not to keep the note of fear from her voice. Ever since she'd seen him walk out that door with Curtis Ames she'd understood what it felt like to feel like she might lose him, and even knowing that Ames was dead, knowing he couldn't hurt them anymore, the fear still remained. It was only as she came down the stairs and saw the trail of light that she could let go of her fear, to see past that and to what it was that had driven her husband from their bed.

"Luka?" She paused at the foot of the stairs as she called his name again, giving him a moment to realize he was no longer alone before approaching.

"Couldn't sleep?" As she walked up behind where he sat on the couch, and slid her arms around his neck, she realized that he held the picture of his first wife and daughter in his hand.

"No, did I wake you?" He made no attempt to conceal the small black and white, but, simply reached up to pat her hand.

"What's wrong, Luka?" After leaning in so she could kiss him, Abby rested her head against his.

"Do you know, Danijela and I would have celebrated our 21st anniversary this year." His voice was quiet, the memories of a marriage long over still laying close to the surface. He fingered the frayed edges of the picture, aware that the smiles of the woman and young girl at one time stirred more feelings of sadness than the happiness they should.

"That's a long time." It was hard not to feel jealous of the feelings he felt for the young woman she'd never know, but she'd learned to allow him room for them, as hard as it was.

"Yeah...long time..." His words grew quieter, and she knew his thoughts were back with those long gone.

"Good night, Luka." She brushed her lips across his cheek before releasing him,this was their time, and she'd leave him to them.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 453
It was his scream that woke them both and where Abby's first instinct was to reach out to Luka and pull him into her arms, experience had taught her that as hard as it was she had to allow him to make the first move. Sitting up she hugged her knees to her chest as she watched her husband find his way back from whichever of his nightmares had robbed him of his sleep.

When she had first met Luka the dreams had always been the same, taking him back to those final months with the family he would be forced to lose over and over again. Since then he'd added other demons to his sleep, the horrors of his experiences in the Congo, and now, most recently those hours he'd been held by Curtis Ames. As she saw him finally open his eyes she offered him a small smile.

"Hey, do you need something to drink?" She was already pushing the blankets aside with the question.

"No, that's okay...I'm sorry I woke you." Without thinking he rubbed his right hand, the pain from the dream lingering even with the dream gone.

"You don't have to apologize, Luka." Stretching her legs out again, Abby patted her lap.

"Come lay here." As he complied she began to brush her fingers through his hair.

"You should go back to sleep yourself." Luka's voice was drowsy as he encouraged her to do that same thing she was asking of him.

"I will, in a little while, now, shhh..." She softened her voice, then slowed her motions down, knowing that he was already close to returning to sleep, if only she could keep him free of the dreams as easily.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 287
Having lost my first family to war, and faced my own death several times it would be easy to say that I've faced the worst dangers a person could face. I could say that, but, it would be a lie, the truth is there is a danger I fear, and it's not one for myself but for those around me. As much as I want to believe that history couldn't repeat itself, that God wouldn't ask me to make that greatest sacrifice a second time, the fear still remains, and I know I would never survive losing Abby and Joe, as I lost Danijela and our children.

From the moment Abby told me she was pregnant I found myself worrying about her health. Abby complained often about my worrying over her diet, or how much sleep she got, but, it's these are the small day to day things that every pregnant couple goes through. It was that day in the ER that none of us could have planned for, the day that very well could have cost all of us our lives. So much of it is a blur, I remember laying intubated on that gurney when she put her hand on the window, seeing the blood, then seeing her fall. I had no way of knowing what had happened to her, no way of knowing if she was alive or dead, all I knew was I was unable to move more than a few inches, I was unable to call for help or do anything to get to her. Those minutes until someone found her, until someone found me, were among the longest of my life.

I'll forever blame Steve and those with him for forcing Abby into early labor, for putting her life and more importantly Joe's at risk. While there's no way of knowing yet what long-term affects Joe might have to all he went through in those first months of his life, all we can do is wait and see, and hope for the best.

I think Curtis Ames brought it all crashing down on me with the most clarity though, coming home and finding him in our apartment with that gun and knowing what he could have done to Abby and Joe. There was never any doubt I would go with him, it was a choice of their lives or mine, how could I have done anything else?

Muse: Luka Kovac
Words: 409


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