When Abby told me that she had relapsed I excepted that a portion of the responsibility for that should rest on my shoulders. When we spoke our vows we agreed to be there for each other and yet, here had come a time when clearly, neither of us had been there for the other at a time when both should have been.

In an ideal world when I first received the news of my father's illness I should have taken both my wife and my son back with me to Croatia to be with him. I had no idea at the time how severe my father's illness was, I had no indication of what might be required of me, but, I do know it was unfair of me to just up and leave Abby and Joe alone, especially so soon in our marriage.

I wonder too if part of my guilt in having left Abby and Joe behind is in knowing that my father never had a chance to meet my wife, or his grandson. If I mourned the loss of my first wife and children openly, my father did the same privately, it was simply the kind of man he was. The rift that their death's had caused between my brother and I was one that I thought would never heal, and I think that too was something that my father agonized over.

In those first months of being alone in Croatia with my father and brother I found we were finally able to resolve many of the differences that had been built up over the years of separation. In a way, it was as if my father's illness made us realize just how important the ties between us were, and I suppose that also made me realize just how much I missed Abby and Joe.

There are never any easy choices in life it seems and when I made the decision to remain at my father's side I think I realized it could cause problems between Abby and I. I knew though that whatever difficulties might come out of my decision, Abby and I would have time to work through them. That it was not something I would have enough of with my father became clear when Niko and I returned to Chicago.

I should have realized that it was too risky for us to leave him, but, I missed Abby and Joe, I guess too that I wanted to share my new life with my brother. After all those years of my telling him I would never find anyone who made me feel like Danijela did, after all those years of being a father without a child, everything was falling into place, or so I thought, if only I had realized what was waiting for us in Chicago. If only we had known that the good-byes we had said to our father were the last we would ever say to him.

I can only hope that these things, like those before can be resolved, that all that is wrong can be made right. At the moment all I can do is reassure Abby that we will be here for her when her treatment is finished, and once we are reunited, then, our work as a family can begin.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 661
"Mama...make them stop." Jasna's cry rose in pitch as the gunfire in the streets intensified, her hold on her mother tightening equally.

The sound of sniper-fire and mortars was nothing new, but, familiarity didn't ease the fear of her children or her own as she worried over a husband who might be caught in the middle of it. He'd only gone out to the market for bread and cheese, he wouldn't be gone long. As she reassured her daughter she kept her eye on the front door, listening for the sound of footsteps that would finally bring him safely back to them.

These were the times she hated the most, the times when she lived in fear that he might not come back to them. She should be used to it after all these months, these were the daily dangers they lived with, the risks he faced when queuing for water or food for them, when going to work. The dangers that forced them to hold their children prisoner in the apartment, with only a dark hallway to use as a playground. If only she hadn't been so stubborn when he had asked her to leave, but, how could she have lived without him? What kind of a life would they have had if they were apart?

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 219
It was an anniversary he could have done without, especially now, what with having been gone so long, he needed to be able to give Abby and Joe his full attention, but he couldn't not with the date looming so close. A reminder that always came as a mixed blessing. He had expected this year to be worse than years past if only because of his having gone back, but nothing like this.

It had been impossible not to go back to those places that he and Danijela had enjoyed all those years ago. Impossible not to search the faces for the one he hoped he would find among so many, even as he knew she would never be there. Even with all the changes in the City he had still found so many reminders of her.

He was home now, back to his wife, his son, he had missed both of them more then he had thought possible, and yet he found his thoughts repeatedly returning to Danijela. How did he begin to explain to Abby, the rekindling of emotions the return home had brought for him?

There had never been a time when his love for Danijela wasn't with him, he knew that, their love was eternal, they had known that from the moment they'd met, but, did Abby understand? She'd accused him once before of being married to a ghost, and he hadn't denied it because in his heart he had known it was true, Danijela would always be his wife, no matter how many years she was gone.

After fifteen years he would have thought it would have gotten easier, but it never did, and maybe that was his punishment for being the one to survive. So, he would do as he always did on this day. He would go and light candles for all three of them, offer prayers of remembrance for the woman who had first captured his heart and the children who'd never had a chance to know life.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 337
As he looked into her eyes, it was still hard for him to believe they were finally married, they had waited two years for this moment and now it was here. Looking into her eyes he couldn't help but wonder if there were any woman more beautiful then she was at this very moment.

"I love you Danijela Kovac." He lowered his head, brushing his lips against hers as he whispered the words to her.

"I love you too...my husband." There was no mistaking the slight tremble in her voice as she lay under him, her fear at the newness of it all still outweighing the expectation of what was to come.

"You are so beautiful." He threaded his fingers through the curls along the side of her face as he spoke.

"I knew from the moment I saw you that I wanted you for my wife." He kissed her mouth again before moving to the hollow of her throat.

"Ah..." She released a slight gasp, though she could already feel her body beginning to respond to his attentions in ways she had never known it could.

"You could not have known before we even spoke." She ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer with an accompanying moan.

"I knew, you were the most beautiful girl there, even in your uniform." He released a quiet laugh before placing the next of his kisses between her breasts.

"Then why did it take you more then a week to even ask me to sit with you for coffee, hmm?" Her soft giggle joined his, the give and take continuing as the young couple explored each other's bodies. They had waited two years to be man and wife, two years to be together, they were in no hurry for this night to end.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 304
A) Getting your dreams, strange as it seems, can be a little, well, complicated -- Wicked

When I was young, the dreams I had for my life were simple ones, to marry, to finish school and obtain my license to practice medicine, and to start a family with the woman I knew I would spend my life with. I had no reason to doubt that I would be successful, the goals were ones that were no different than many others my age, no different than those of our fathers before us, with the exception of our choice of careers.

If only I had known it wasn't going to last, but, I couldn't know that. Nobody plans for their life to unravel, nobody plans for their world to completely fall apart.

When you lose everything you have, you give up on your dreams, or at least you tell yourself you do. What good is it to plan for a new future when you can't let go of those who are tied to the one you no longer have? You try to convince yourself you're ready to move on, but, regardless of what your head tells you, it's your heart that's in control, and nothing you do can change that.

There's a familiar saying, "Time heals all wounds," maybe that's true, because eventually you do begin to dream about your future again. At first you don't even realize it's happening, you may even deny it to yourself, you have to, because to admit it is to betray the memory of those no longer with you. Gradually though the feelings of guilt subside, and as they do you find not only can you dream about the future to come, you can finally open yourself up to living it.

Name: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 281
"Are you awake?" As Abby eased the door of the hospital room open, part of her hoped she would find him asleep, while the rest was relieved to find Luka alone. Her biggest fear though had been that she would find Gillian sitting vigil at Luka's bedside, and she wasn't sure she was ready for another encounter with the Canadian nurse just yet.

Instead of answering Kovac shifted in his sleep on the bed, a soft moan his only response. When she had met him in the hallway the day before she hadn't been able to ignore the lingering bruises, or his pallor, seeing him now against the white sheets only emphasized them more.

Letting the door close behind her, she moved over to check the flow of his IV's then smoothed the tape down over his bruised hand before taking a seat in the chair beside him. She'd hated the idea of both he and Carter going to the Congo in the first place, and then when the news had come of Luka's death. Abby wiped at her eyes before the tears had a chance to get started. She wondered if she would ever be able to forgive either of them. Damn both of them for putting all of them through this.

"Hey...what are you doing here." Luka's quiet voice drew her attention away from her own thoughts and back to him.

"Hey, yourself, did I wake you?" She sniffed back the tears and hoped he wouldn't notice.

"No...was dreamin'." His accent came a little thicker almost as if he was making no attempt to control it.

"Gillian's not here?" His eyes swept the room as he spoke and he seemed a little surprised to find the other woman absent.

"I didn't see her, it's early though, she probably just stepped out for a bit, maybe she went to get some sleep or change clothes. Do you need something? I can call a nurse." She reached for the buzzer even before he had answered.

"No, just wondered." He shook his head before laying his hand on top of hers to stop her.

"Doesn't matter. You on your way to work?" As he quizzed her he first raised the head on the bed so he was sitting up, then picked at the tape that held the IV needle in place on his hand.

"Later, I just thought, I don't know, maybe we could talk." Abby hesitated, watching him and wishing she had something to do with her own hands, in the end she settled for simply dropping them in her lap. When had she felt so uncomfortable in his presence?

"Sure, we can talk, what did you want to talk about?" Maybe it was something that passed across her face, as he asked the question, or maybe it was something that went deeper between them, but he instantly regretted the question.

"Luka, I know you don't want to hear this, it's hard for me to even talk about it, but I can't just pretend that it never happened, that it isn't true." Abby wiped at her eyes again, wishing she had never even come to see Luka let alone begun the conversation she now found herself stumbling through.

"Luka, they told us you were dead. You went there knowing you were willing to risk your life, to throw your life away, without even thinking about how it would affect those around you and then you convinced John to do the same thing." There was a tremble in her words but she somehow managed to finish.

"How could you be so selfish?" The anger bubbled to the surface and with it came the tears she had fought so hard to hold back.

"It wasn't like that." Even as he denied her words Luka knew there was a truth to them that he hadn't recognized at the time.

"Luka, you've been spiraling out of control for months, how can you deny it?" Abby came up out of her chair so quickly that it rocked backward and nearly fell backward before she steadied it.

"Just lots goin' on...needed to try and make sense of it." The conversation was one he knew he needed to face but at the same time he knew it was too soon.

"You need to talk to someone, Luka, really talk to someone, you can't keep living the way you were before you left." The words were barely out of her mouth when the door opened and Gillian stepped into the room.

"I know." Luka's reply was almost lost to the nurse's appearance.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't expect anyone else to be here." Gillian smiled and moved to Luka's bedside, then leaned down to give him a friendly kiss.

"Good morning." She smiled at him before brushing her hand over his forehead, checking for fever.

"'Morning. Abby stopped by before work." Luka offered the explanation as he looked before the two women.

"You still have a fever, have they brought your meds in yet?" She automatically began tidying up the area around his bedside, straightening his blankets and the table alongside the bed.

"I should go." As much as she wanted to continue the conversation with him, Abby knew that it was impossible with Gillian present.

"Is it okay if I come by after my shift?" She moved to the door and opened it lingering in the doorway as she waited for his answer.

"Sure, I'd like that." Despite the turn their conversation had taken Luka managed a weak smile for the dark haired woman.

"Thanks for coming, Abby. His smile broadened, reflecting the sincerity behind his words.

"You're welcome, Luka, take care of yourself." Abby found herself easily returning his smile before slipping out into the hall. Despite her anger at his actions, her feelings for him remained and she doubted that would ever change.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 986
"I was so lost back then
But with a little help from my friends
I found a light in the tunnel at the end" -- Lily Allen

"Luka, Tomo is at the door." Josip Kovac eased the door to his son's room open as he made the announcement, though he wasn't sure if he was awake.

"Tell him to go away." The younger man turned on his side so his back was to his father.

"You should at least talk to him, you haven't seen him since you've been home.

"Tata, please, I don't want to see anyone, just tell him to go." As he spoke fatigue hung heavy from his words, prompting Josip to enter and come to his side.

"Luka, I thought you were past this. No one can change what happened, but you've had time to grieve, now you have to think about moving on." As he spoke the man took a seat on the edge of the bed and laid his hand on his son's shoulder.

"We all miss Danijela and the children, we always will, but you can't spend all day laying in bed mourning their loss." As he spoke he caught the glimpse of the small photo before it was hidden from view beneath the sheets.

"It was different there, Tata, there's too much here to remind me of them." For the first time the young man turned to face his father, revealing the fresh tears staining his face. Pulling his son to him, the elder Kovac wrapped his arms around his shoulders, then found himself tightening his hold as they began to shake.

"Let it out, Luka, let it out." As he coaxed the release from his younger son Josip found it hard not to shed his own tears for the losses, Danijela had been his daughter-in-law, Jasna and Marko his only grandchildren.

"It'll get better, I promise you that, come on, wash your face and change your clothes, Tomo is still waiting for you." After giving him a kiss Josip rose from the bed, and made his way to the door, pausing just short of clearing it. "Go get drunk with Tomo, I give you my permission so you won't have to sneak in after I'm asleep." Maybe it wasn't the solution to his finding his way back, but it was a start, and at least here he was no longer alone.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 376
"Danijela, Marko mrtva..." Gillian looked over at the hospital bed as she heard Luka's voice, then rose and went to his side as she saw him struggling to free himself of the bedding that he had somehow gotten tangled in.

"Luka, shhh." Brushing his damp bangs off of his forehead, she frowned, his fever was spiking again, the malaria still riding it's peaks and valleys as it raged through his weakened body. She should call his doctor in, see if they wanted to increase his medication, but that would mean leaving him alone with whoever haunted his dreams and she couldn't do that.

"There's no one one here but me, Luka." She whispered the words, unsure whether he would hear her or not as she pulled the sweat soaked linens free.

"Marko...mrtva." When his eyes flickered open she tried to smile, but found instead tears coming as he seemed unable to recognize her.

"I don't understand." Luka, it's Gillian...I don't know who Marko is, there's no one else here but us." Reaching for a towel she dampened it, then wiped his face with it, hoping it might break into the fever enough to allow him to at least recognize his surroundings.

"Don't cry." It took her a moment to realize he had spoken to her, and she moved closer as she saw him lift his hand to wipe the tear that had fallen from her cheek.

"Am I that bad?" He managed a weak smile of his own as he let his hand drop to the covers.

"No." She shook her head before leaning down to kiss him.

"I think you were dreaming, but it didn't make any sense to me." Gillian pulled her chair over by the bed so she could sit as she began to explain.

"What did I say?" A crease formed between Luka's brows at his question.

"Luka, I don't know, it was just a few words, maybe a name...Marko?" Gillian frowned as the news seemed to erase the spark that had surfaced in him.

"Talk to me, Luka." She reached for his hand with the request, only to find disappointment as he pulled away from her physically as well.

"I need to rest...please." Turning his face away from her scrutiny, Luka closed his eyes, why now? It wasn't until he heard the sound of Gillian rising and her footsteps as she left the room that he opened his eyes again to find himself alone, but, he wasn't alone, not really. He released a sigh with the realization.

"You're always here aren't you?" He voiced the question aloud as if he expected those long gone to be able to answer.

"Always part of me..." The words trailed off as he closed his eyes again and allowed himself to be drawn back into his past. Back to Vukovar, to the smell of the fires that still burned in the ruined apartment building. Back to the ghosts of his family, of his wife and small children taken too soon from him.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
"I'm waiting for the world to fall
I'm waiting for the scene to change
I'm waiting when the colors come
I'm waiting to let my world come undone" -- Jars of Clay

Ever since my encounter with Curtis Ames I've been left with a sense of foreboding, a feeling that somehow that was only the beginning of something far worse. I can't talk about this with anyone, I know what they would say, I've been through it all before.

If I go back and let myself remember how things were before the war, it's easy to get lost within so many competing emotions. I think back on how happy we were, but then I remember too those times I try and tell myself never happened. The times after the war had begun, the ones I want to forget because they spoil that perfect picture. I don't want to think about the arguments that Danijela and I had over her taking the children and leaving the City. I don't want to think about the nights when she cried herself to sleep over what we were putting our children through after we ended up staying. I don't want to see the terror on my babies faces, or hear their screams when shells came too close to the apartment. I don't want to see their bruised and bloodied bodies on that final day.

As the years have passed I've found it easier to be more selective with my memories. I no longer find the darker days haunting my every thought, or invading my sleep through nightmares so real that I often forgot where I was. There was a time when I would never have thought it possible to go an hour let alone a day or even a week without finding myself swallowed by the guilt, or the grief, but that's what has happened. Even more of a surprise though was that I somehow moved on without my realizing it had happened.

When I first came to the United States, I was running away. Croatia held too many memories I needed to escape from and I somehow thought that the farther away I was from there the easier it would be for me to forget. I was wrong of course, but, I couldn't know that then. When I first got here I found myself still running, after getting my license I moved from hospital to hospital, never staying anywhere long enough for anyone to get close, it was too great a risk, not for them, for me. If I let people close it would mean talking about what I had lost, what I had left behind, what I wanted from life, and I couldn't answer that, so I ran. Until I found County.

I'll never know why this place was different, and I know, it's had it's ups and downs, maybe that's why I'm so wary now. What Abby and I have now, what we're building between us, and for Joe, it's so close to what I had with Danijela that it scares me. I'm afraid that the sins of my past will come back to haunt me again and God will decide that I don't deserve to have any of this. I'm afraid that he'll take Abby and Joe away from me the way he took Danijela and my children away from me all those years ago and it scares me...

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 536
Laying in the dark, Luka Kovac listened to the sounds in the hospital hallway just on the other side of the closed door, he should be sleeping, but that like many things in his life was something that no longer came easily to him. Even with working shifts of ten, twelve, fourteen hours, and sometimes even more, he still found himself tossing and turning on the small cot by the time he found his way to it.

Once a storage place for linens and cleaning supplies the small, cramped room was now home for Luka and two other medical students. Men who like him, no longer had anywhere else to go. Shelves that had once held linens and cleaning supplies had been removed, replaced by a single cot, the only source of comfort they would find.

It wasn't as if any of the three minded, the losses they had suffered had stripped them of any desire for reminders of what their lives once had been. The room was a place to sleep, nothing more, and many days even that was impossible to find.

So, again, as was the case on far too many nights, or days, he lay awake, listening to those outside, and wondering if he would ever find his way past this. He'd forgotten what it was like to smile, what it was like to be happy. Ever since he had laid his wife and children to rest on that snowy wintry morning he had known only grief, only heartbreak and there was no reason to think it would ever be any different. He had lost his family, his home, his life, and with them all their hopes and dreams for the future were gone as well. He had survived, as had so many others like him, in body alone, no more then a shell of the man he had been, and he was afraid he would never know anything else.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 324
He hated nights like these, listening to the sounds of the gunfire in the darkness, the missiles streaking across the sky then the explosions that followed as they struck their targets. None of these though affected him more than the sound of his wife and children as their fear drove them to tears. How was he supposed to offer comfort for something he had no control over?

"Shh...Jasna," he tried to quiet the small girl, holding his daughter tightly, shielding her small body with his own. Her cries turned to shrieks of terror when bullets struck too close, and riddled the the mortar beneath the windows of their own apartment.

"Shh, Tata's got you baby." What more could he do? It was too late to leave the City, too late to do more then stay clear of the windows when the fighting was at it's worst. He lifted his head briefly to seek out his wife, though he knew even as he did that she would be little more then a mound of blankets as she shielded their young son from the same dangers.

What kind of Father was he? What kind of a life was this? All their children knew was fear and sacrifice, would they even remember how it had been before the war? What it had been like to walk outside and feel sunshine on their faces, to feel the breeze as it tugged at their hair?

How could he ever begin to make amends for doing this to them? For stealing them away from what their childhood should have been and thrusting them into the madness that only adults should have to face? How could he explain to them how he had placed his education above their own safety?

That was his greater fear wasn't it? That he would one day have to explain why he had chosen for them to stay when they'd still had a chance to leave? That he'd have to explain how he could have placed his career over the safety of his family?

"Shh, baby, Tata's got you, " But that would come later, much later, all that mattered now was getting through the night.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 363

Life has never been easy for my father and like many of his age he's made sacrifices to his own dreams and desires for the good of his family. It was always my father's dream to be a painter, and while I can always remember his having canvases around the house when my brother and I were growing up, if asked he was always an engineer, for it's that which put food on the table.

My father was a strong man, a man who somehow always managed to keep his emotions to himself no matter how serious the situation he found himself in. I don't think I ever realized just how difficult that was for him until I lost my family, and he in turn lost his daughter-in-law and his only grandchildren.

I couldn't bring myself to break the news of their deaths to him right away. I didn't know how to tell him they were gone. How did I tell him that the dreams we'd had for the future would never happen? I stood alone at their graveside, and even as he begged me to come home afterward I stayed behind hoping that death would find me too.

When Vukovar fell I barely escaped the City with my life, after several days on the run I finally collapsed, wounded and exhausted and sure I would at last be joining my family.

I was wrong, instead I awoke to find myself in a displaced person's camp. As I struggled to regain my health, I also fought another battle, and that was the one with myself over how I would tell my father.

In the end it was he who found me first. Where I had expected to hear blame for my failures to protect my family, instead I received reassurances that I had done all I could have for them. That what had happened wasn't anything we could have planned for so, where I thought I might find rejection I instead found comfort.

I wasn't ready to hear everything my father had to say then, it would be years before I could accept it. He never gave up on me though, and he never let me give up, no matter how badly I might have wanted to.

As my father grows older as I grow older, I find myself beginning to see sides to him I couldn't when I was younger and I realize just how little I knew him. My father is more than just my father to me now, he is also my by best friend, despite the miles and worlds that separate us.

I treasure the times we have together in ways I never thought I would, and I can't wait until the moment when I can lay his new grandson into his arms. That moment is one I was sure would never come. The gift one I was certain I would never be able to give him. The truth is, I know I would never have been able to even think about it without having him standing beside me, offering his support and encouragement, and whatever else I needed even when I wasn't aware of it at the time.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 535


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