Now that we're settled in Boston, I find I'm spending more time in the kitchen than I ever did in Chicago. I enjoy it, I not only find it a great way to relax, but, it also gives me a chance to cook the foods I grew up with. I think being back in Croatia for as long as I was while my father was ill, and reconnecting with the importance of those family mealtimes made me realize that I wanted to share that with Abby and Joe once I was home.

I look at the comfort I find in the foods I grew up with, the thick soups and stews with their fresh baked croutons, the goulash and seafood, and yes, even the pastries, and I want that for my son. In fact, I'm cooking today, and as the smell of the simmering broth fills the whole house, all I have to do is close my eyes to find myself transported back to my mama's kitchen. I want my son to have these same memories, to enjoy the food as much as I do, so, I give him this gift as it was given to me, out of love.

Čobanac sa žličnjacima
Shepherd's Goulash

Ingredients

300g. (11 oz.) veal
300g. (11 oz.) pork
6 tablespoons oil
200 g. (7 oz.) onions
100g. (4 oz,) carrots
50g. (2. oz) parsley root
1 clove garlic
ground sweet red pepper (to taste)
salt and pepper
1 chili pepper
1 tablespoon ajvar ( a piquant, spicy and delicious mixture of round, red, sweet peppers (known locally as tomato peppers), aubergines, and chili peppers, first baked, then peeled, minced and cooked to a thick consistency).
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon smetana
half a litre (20 fl. oz.) white wine
1 tablespoon Vegeta

Foer Dumplings:
350 g. (12 oz.) flour
1 egg
salt

Chop the onion. Grate the carrots and parsley root. Wash and dice the meat. Chop the garlic.
Heat the oil and lightly fry the onion, add the carrot and parsley root and braise for a while. Then add the meat and spice it with chili (or cayenne) pepper, red pepper and salt. Add a little hot water, bay leaf, Vegeta and allow to simmer gently, adding further water as required.

When the meat is half cooked, add the dumplings, garlic, and ground pepper. Finally, stir in the ajvar, wine and smetana.

Dumplings:
Mix the egg, salt and flour with sufficient water to produce a thick dough. Work the dough by beating it against the side of the mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until it becomes smooth and elastic and peels easily away from the spoon. Spoon pieces of prepared dough into a larger saucepan of salted boiling water. Cook for about 15 minutes, remove the dumplings and drain them.


How do you thank someone for giving you your life back?

For the longest time John and I were adversaries I guess you could say. I'm not sure how it started, or even why exactly, though I know it was at a time when Abby and I were first dating and things weren't going too well.

At the start, when Abby and I were together, she and John were simply friends, when things started to change it couldn't help but bleed into the relationship we had. Maybe I was jealous because I saw that he could give her a life I couldn't, or maybe it was just the relationship that seemed to exist between them. When we finally did break up, we both had our reasons, and where she used my continued love for my wife against me, I hurled her feelings toward Carter at her. I'd had enough, I told myself I was done with the games, I was done with the fights, I told her that Carter could have her. I didn't realize at the time what a mistake I was making and what that decision would cost me.

Over the next year and a half it seemed things only got worse, it wasn't just that I still held feelings for Abby, I know I did, but, I'd lost my best friend, and seeing her everyday with Carter, it became a nightmare for me. I began to hate Carter, and that hate started to change me, ultimately affecting how I did my job. I became someone I no longer recognized, and often someone I couldn't stand, and while it was easy to blame John, in truth I know I knew it wasn't his fault.

It's funny how time changes things, how things that once seemed so huge become insignificant. When I decided to go to the Congo my life was in ruins, I hardly recognized the person I'd become, and was to the point where if I had died, I was sure no one would even have noticed. I'd made my peace with Abby, and while things between us weren't perfect, we had at least become friends again. It took going to the Congo though for me to see just how much things had changed between John and I.

I'd worked in a war-zone before, I'd seen the devastation, the grief on the faces of parents as they held their bloodied children in their arms. I knew what it was like to work under the worst conditions you could imagine, with little to no sleep, but, you can't explain that to someone like Carter. The first time I saw him there, I knew he was shocked by the conditions, but, what was I supposed to say to him? It wasn't like it was going to get any better. It wasn't like he could buy a way to fix this. Then, after our encounter with the Mai Mai there was no doubt of he and the others leaving Matenda.

Saying good-bye, that day on the steps of the clinic, I think I knew it very well could be for the last time, but, I had my patients, and for the first time in far too long I felt like I was doing the right thing. I don't think any of us could have anticipated how much worse things would get, or the lives that would be lost in the process. More importantly, I never would have thought that John would endanger his own life to recover my body upon learning of my death.

My death. They thought I was dead, killed with so many others, Patrique among them. County had received the call, and for whatever reason ,John decided he had to come back back for me. He didn't have to, he didn't owe me anything, we weren't even friends, or so I thought, but, he put his own life in danger and he found us, Chance, her Mother, and I, in a filthy mud hut. I was barely clinging to life when he got there, in a day, maybe two I could well have been truly dead. Yet, there he was, and somehow, he convinced them to release us, and to this day I'll never know the how or why of it.

My relationship with John has never been the same since that day. I can now honestly say, he's my friend, and I owe him my life, and so much more, and I have no idea how I will ever repay him for all that he gave me when he gave me back my life.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: Er
Words: 758
"Luka, it's so good to hear your voice. How's Joe doing?" As he shifted the phone from one ear to the other, there was no denying that Abby's voice held a sadness to it that betrayed the forced lightness in her words.

"He's good, Niko took him to the market with him. We miss you." If only she knew how much. The thought followed his words before he could catch it.

"How are you doing? Are you coming soon?" There were so many questions he wanted to ask her, so many more he knew he didn't dare ask.

"I don't know, this isn't easy." She didn't want to talk about her rehab, she didn't want to think about the mistakes she'd made that had resulted in her being where she was instead of with her husband and son.

"I know, it won't be much longer though, you'll be here, and I can show you all the places I've wanted to for so long." As he spoke, Luka reached for a book that sat on the table beside where he stood. The leather cover was cracked and worn, the gold embossed title long ago faded. As he opened it, he withdrew several yellowed sheets of folded paper.

"I've been thinking a lot about all the time we've spent apart. We're not the first to go through this, what we have, you, Joe, and I, nothing can take that from us." As he unfolded the papers, his eyes scanned the cramped handwriting, his words echoed by the author's so many years before. How many other marriages had been tested as they were being tested now? How many had failed to overcome the obstacles of distance, of lives changed by those very same separations? How many others had been strengthened by those challenges? How many had survived to grow old and die together? As he turned to the last of the pages, he was disappointed to find they held no answers to his questions. Had these two been among those to survive their time apart? The answer was one he would never know, but, he could fight to save what he and Abby had.

"Luka, are you still there?" Abby's voice broke into his thoughts, bringing him back to the conversation.

"I have to go, I'll call again tomorrow if I can, kiss Joe for me." As much as she wanted to respond to his words, Abby knew she couldn't not this way, not on the phone.

"I will, I just wish he was here so you could talk to him." He hated having to say good-bye to her, because no matter how long they spoke, it was never long enough.

"I love you so much, Luka, please don't give up on me. I have to go." There was no ignoring the break in her voice, and despite the distance that separated them he knew she'd been brought to tears.

"I love you too, Abby." Had she heard him? The dial-tone in his ear made him wonder if his words had come too late. She had to know, even if the call had ended too soon. Why did it have to be so hard? The question reminded him of the notes he still held, and he couldn't help but wonder, had she too asked that question all those years before?

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 557
You've been visited by three ghosts, in one night. Past. Present. Future. Tell the story.



The first vist...

"Luka, can you hear me my love?" It was Danijela's voice that woke him, inching him toward consciousness in the darkness of the tiny hut. For a moment he was convinced he could feel the touch of her fingers as they trailed along his jaw, the action familiar enough to bring tears to his eyes even after all the years that had passed without his knowing it. When it was followed by the brush of her lips against his he couldn't help but question whether the malaria's fever was leading him places he'd rather have avoided.

"Luka, open your eyes, it's been too long since I've seen them." Even as he knew it was impossible, Luka was sure he felt his wife's lips once more touch his skin as she touched a kiss to each lid. As hard as it was to give into the dream, he knew he could no longer resist the chance to see her face again, and as she drew back he finally gave in.

"Danijela." How was it possible? In that moment that his eyes caught hers nothing else around them existed, all he could think about was how much he loved her, how much he'd missed her, and how much he wanted to feel her in his arms again. As weak as he was he forced himself to sit, ignoring the wave of dizziness that swept over him he pulled her close.

"Danijela, I've missed you so much." It was his turn to kiss her, to inhale her scent.

"You're so beautiful." It was only as she wiped his tears from his cheeks that he realized he was crying and as his wife smiled at him, he found it hard not to do the same for her.

"Don't be sad, Luka, we don't have much time, I want you to remember our time now with love, not tears." Frozen at the time of her death, Danijela still held the innocence of her 25 years of life mixed with the joys of motherhood and the knowledge that she had found her one true love.

"How is this possible?" He hated asking the question and as soon as the words were released he found himself gripped by the fear that whoever was permitting them their reunion would snatch it away from them before he was ready to let her go again.

"Don't ask, I can't answer that, I just know we don't have much time, and I have to talk to you." After so many years away from him, it was as hard for Danijela as it was for Luka, and she leaned into him, finding safety in the comfort of his arms once again.

"Danijela..." A finger to his lips silenced him before he could say anything more. As her eyes swept over him, it was impossible for her not to notice the sheen of sweat on his skin, and the paleness accompanying it.

"Lay down, Luka, you need to rest, we can still talk." As she coaxed him back down onto the pallet she couldn't not curl against him before beginning to stroke his face.

"Luka, I know you love the children and I, you always will, but, you have to start living again my love. You can't stop your life because we're no longer with you, and you can't keep blaming yourself for our not being with you." It was Danijela's turn to cry, but, without knowing how long they had, she knew she couldn't stop.

"You couldn't have known what would happen when you left the apartment that day, I know that, and Jasna knew you did everything you could to save us. Our lives are over now, but, you still have yours, live it for us, my love, do all of those things we always wanted for our children. Luka, you were such a wonderful father, you still have time to know that joy again, please find someone, for me, for our children, don't waste everything that makes you who you are." By the time she finished they were both in tears and she again silenced him with a kiss.

"No more talk, Luka, just hold me, and know I will always, always love you, now, sleep." It might have been minutes, more likely though it took only seconds for the slow stroking of her fingers at his temples to lull him back into sleep, and in that moment before she vanished, she placed a final kiss upon his lips.

"Farewell, my love." The words remained behind as she vanished, little more then particles of dust settling around him.

The second visit...

"I think I'd rather we met in the bar than this place." The smell of the prostitute's perfume filled the hut, and as much of a shock it had been to wake earlier to find Danijela at his side, it was even more of one to now see Valerie. How could he have possibly explained the woman to his wife, explained to her what he had done, and the man he had become since her death.

"It really is disgusting here, and I'm charging extra for the conditions, I expect better than this, I'm not some $20 an hour crack whore after all , I thought you understood that. The blond had somehow found a chair and as she now crossed her legs, she smoothed her skirt across her lap.

"I've never seen this side of you, I'm not sure I like it." Opening her purse, she withdrew a cigarette, and after sliding it between her perfectly lined lips, she proceeded to light it.

"Would you like one?" She offered the pack, only to return it to her purse at his refusal.

"Fine, have it your way." Reaching for the one she held between her lips, she removed it only long enough to release a slow stream of smoke.

"I've been thinking about you, this place isn't for you, if you ask me, this humanitarian crap is over-rated, we'd have more fun back in Chicago. You do have fun when you're with me, don't you?" As she asked the question, Valerie rose and walked over to the pallet on which he now sat. Despite a brief lapse where she wrinkled her nose at the smell, the woman settled down beside him as if she were taking a seat on the finest satin comforter.

"We could set up regular play-dates, drinks, dinner, and then I'd treat you like you deserve to be treated, you'd like that, I know you would." Her voice grew quieter the closer she got, until it was little more than a whisper before she caught his earlobe between his teeth. Using that as a distraction she trailed a hand down his chest before stopping as she cupped her hand around him. When the action elicited a gasp, and was immediately followed by a stirring from him in response, she couldn't help but laugh.

"See, you do want me, nothing has to change, all you have to do is go back to Chicago and we can pick up right where we left off." Taking advantage of his show of weakness she cast her cigarette into the dirt before pushing him back with her free hand so she could straddle him. You don't have to listen to anyone but your body, this is all you need, the rest means nothing." With him pinned under her weight she slid her hands inside his pants so she could stroke him.

"What could be better than this?" At his groan in response she again laughed, yes, this was all he needed, she was sure of it, and in time he would come to realize it as well.

The third and final visit...

"They said you were dead, but I didn't believe them, not you, not after everything you've been through." Luka moaned softly as the words crept into his head.

"No more...no more." Rolling to his side he drew his knees up before tucking his head down to touch them. He couldn't take anymore of this, he wanted nothing more now but for it to stop.

"I'm not going anywhere, Luka, you should know that by now." It took him longer to identify the speaker's voice, and as it registered he raised his head before rolling to his other side so he could see her.

"Abby?" He blinked several times in disbelief, deciding her appearance made no more sense then had those of Danijela's and Valerie's. If he touched her, would she too seem as real?

"You have to come back to me Luka, you may not see why now, but in time you will. I have to warn you though, it's not going to be easy, but, when has it been for us? Do you remember our first date? Nothing will ever be as bad as that, but you have to want to leave this place, you can't just lay here and give up." For the first time Abby reached over to touch him.

"What have they done to you?" She touched each bruise and cut on his face as if she could somehow heal them before letting her hand drop.

"I told you not to come here, but, you wouldn't listen, you have to listen now, you have to want to come back, if you don't, you'll die here. Carter's looking for you, Luka, you have to hang on until he finds you, promise me you won't give up. Promise me." To emphasize her words she took his hand in hers and squeezed it as tightly as she could.

"Say it, Luka...say you won't give up or so help me I will haunt you." She could feel the tears building as she demanded the promise from him and at the same time she felt the pull that signaled her time with him was almost at it's end.

"I'll be there for you when you come home, but, you have to hang on, now, promise me you won't give up." She caught his gaze as she tried to force him into the promise she knew he would honor once it was made.

"I promise." His words came quietly and even as he made them he wondered if he was making them for her or for himself, it would only be later that Danijela's words to him would return and he would remember she'd asked him to live for her and the children as well.

"I'll be waiting for you, Luka, no matter how long it takes, just hold on, Carter will find you, I promise you that." It was only then that Abby gave in and fully approached him, then, using her words as permission she kissed him.

"Don't give up on him, Luka...don't give up me." Abby was allowed one more kiss before she too was gone, and in the darkness of the tiny hut Luka was left wondering about the vividness of the dreams that had touched him as he drifted back into his fever fueled sleep.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 2008


He could hear music. There shouldn't be music, not here, not among so much death, but, still, even as he knew it wasn't possible he was sure he could hear it. Luka cocked his head as the notes seemed to swirl around him, the confusion of his already sky-high malarial fever melding with the shock of all they had been through. Could this be the sign that his time here was coming to an end? Could the music be a way for the angels to soothe whatever fears he might have about meeting his own death? As much as he hated to believe that the one thing he had dreamt about for far too many years might finally have found him, he wasn't sure that he was ready for it.

The music brought a sense of calm to him that he hadn't felt in some time. Gone was the fear that had gripped him as he'd watched Patrique fall beside him, instead, in it's place there was a familiarity that drew him back to his childhood. As he struggled to his knees he could easily imagine himself back in the safety and comfort of those days. No longer was he kneeling in the dirt, even the smell of death that had hung thick in the air as the sun beat down on them seemed to disappear. No, hearing the the music changed everything. As the prayers found their way to his lips he closed his eyes, in an instant it was as if everything that had happened since the Mai Mai's first attack became the dream. He could almost imagine he were once more in the Church of his youth, the smell of the censer's incense tickling his nose as the Priest paused to whisper his blessing, touching the sign of the cross to his forehead before moving past.

All too soon the illusion was gone, the spell broken as hurried voices around him destroyed the magic. It was only as he opened his eyes that he was aware of the Mai Mai surrounding him, it took longer to understand why. A priest...a priest? They thought he was a priest. It was only as they crossed themselves that it fully hit home, they pressed closer to him but not to steal his life from him as they had the others, they wanted his blessing. Of all the things he had thought illusions, could he have been wrong about the angels watching over him? It was the only way he could explain what was happening around him. For whatever reason they found his life worth saving, and he drew on their strength as he found the words to continue the prayers for those who now knelt around him.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 462
So innocent, naive even, if only Erin had known what kind of a man I really was, she might have saved herself before it was too late, before I almost killed her. She wasn't the first though, she was just another in a long line who fell into the trap I was laying before them. How funny that none of them ever noticed what I had become, or they didn't until I started to make mistakes, until I started to let my personal life overlap with my professional and that result very nearly cost me everything.

I wish I could say that I regretted the mistakes I had made, but, I don't know that I do. I do know that I was looking to punish myself, the nameless sex, the alcohol, the fast living, that wasn't me, that was the stranger I was hiding behind. I needed to punish myself for the things I had done, the people I had hurt, or maybe it was more the things I thought I had done, and what better way to do that then by becoming the man most unlike who I really was.

I think back now on what I had become over those months after Abby and I broke up that first time we were together. Looking back on it now, and how I let Nicole take advantage of me, I think that became the real beginning of the end for things, though at the time I didn't see it for that. I just needed to feel something, anything, even if it was for those few brief hours that someone like Valerie could provide, and when I failed with that, there was always a bottle I could crawl inside of.

If only my actions hadn't found ways to hurt so many others. Why is it that no matter how hard I try to do the right thing that I always end up screwing things up? Why is it, that it's always someone else who suffers for my mistakes? Erin, Rick, Patrique, Sakima, and even Chance, no one was safe from the harm that follows me, even in the Congo innocents suffered for my mistakes.

Why, if lives were to be taken, couldn't one have been mine? Why did I have to learn the lessons that would change me so late? I'll never have the answers to my questions anymore then I'll know how I found my way back from the dark place I'd lost myself in, but, that stranger inside me is no more, and at long last I can be sure no one else will pay the price for my mistakes.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 439
I feel like I'm living outside myself. After freeing Marko from the rubble and carrying first him, then Jasna and Danijela from the apartment I'm left to go through the paces that far too many have already gone through. I know what I have to do, but, that doesn't make it come any easier. My family is gone, my wife, my babies, my life, and I find myself praying as I stand before that shell ravaged building, I pray that a sniper will find me so that I can be with them as they are laid to their final rest.

I feel like I'm living outside myself, going through the motions with no memory of how I got from one place to the next. So it is on that next morning as I wake up...and roll over, and for a moment I can almost forget, I reach out expecting to find my wife and instead find only emptiness, and as my hand falls, I come fully awake to find I'm on a cot in a storeroom instead of the home we once shared. Never again will I wake to her smile, to her kiss, to the laughter of our children as they join us in our bed, this is what I have to look forward to now, and I feel so alone.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 225
Standing on that rain-slick street with our son in my arms, watching Abby drive away, how could I not hold myself at least partially responsible? We have been through so much, and despite everything we still manage to find our way back to each other, I have to believe it will be the same with this.

I know I let Abby and Joe down by being gone so long, but, how could I know that in going back to deal with one crisis another would find it's way to us? Getting that phone-call, learning that my father had cancer, and knowing that there were issues between us that had been left unspoken for so many years, I knew I had to go to him. In a perfect world I would have taken Abby and Joe with me, but, I couldn't and what I thought might take only weeks somehow stretched into months.

I know when I came back that I didn't see the difference at first. I was so glad to be home, to wake up beside my wife, to spend time with my son. Bringing my brother back to meet them, thinking our father's condition had stabilized, I wanted everything to be the way I always dreamed it could be. Seeing Abby in the hospital after so long away, it was like my world lit up again, and it seemed at first that everything was fine, but, it wasn't. I learned too late that it wasn't. Maybe I just didn't want to see the things that were wrong, because if I didn't see them then maybe there weren't really there, but, they were, and the marriage I'd left was not the one I came back to.

I don't know if I'll ever know all that Abby went through while I was gone. If she'll ever reach the point where she feels it's safe to discuss the things that led her to feel the need to go to the place where she now finds herself. In a way, it doesn't really matter, Joe and I, no matter where we are, the feelings we feel for her, those won't change. Neither of us can go back and change what happened, all we can do is agree not to let events in our lives pull us apart again.

Standing here now, with our son in my arms, watching my wife, his mother drive away from us, I have to believe she will find her way back to us. I have to believe that all of us are stronger then the things that somehow pulled us apart and left us where we are now. I have to believe that Abby knows what she is doing when she says she needs to do this alone. Ultimately, I have to believe that all of the things that brought us to this point, are nothing next to the love that binds us together, because if I didn't believe that I don't think I could take Joe and walk away like this. So, I'll take our son to Croatia to bury my father, and we'll wait for her. No matter how long it takes.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 532
d. Do you think you could survive an apocalypse? Would you want to?

I've lived through a war, survived when those I loved, those most important to me, my wife, my small children, had their lives taken from them for reasons no one can ever justify, I endured hardships I only months before would not have thought myself capable of, and imposed those same burdens on children so young that they still believed that their Mama and Tata could protect them from whatever harm might befall them.

If only they knew how wrong they were. If only they knew what a failure I would be in that one task that I had always sworn I would be there to do.

What father doesn't promise his child that he will look after them? From the moment they are old enough to walk we are there to see that no harm comes to them, picking them up when they fall, kissing away scraped knees and bumps on the head. But, how do you protect them from days spent huddled under mounds of blankets because you lack electricity, from rationed water and meals of little more then turnips and onions in hot water. How do you protect them from unseen snipers and bombs falling from the sky?

I couldn't, but, while I failed them somehow I found something deep within myself that refused to let me join them in death. Something that forced me to go on when all I wanted to do was lay down beside them, and let death find it's way to me too. It wasn't for lack of trying, and over the years it seems I have cheated death repeatedly only to watch others around me die in my place. I suppose for this reason alone I have to believe I could survive an Apocalypse, but, there is a difference in my life now that hasn't been there for far too many years, you see, I no longer seek death.

I'm a husband again, and a father to my son, Joe, and for those reasons I know I will cling to life with every fiber of my being. As I did for Danijela, for Jasna, and for our baby, Marko, I will find ways to offer them hope when there seems none to give, I will be the strength they need to endure whatever hardships confront us, that's my role in life, it's what I do.

So, yes, I will survive, we will survive...

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 405
I can't get the blood off my hands. It doesn't matter how much soap I use, or how hot the water is. It doesn't matter how hard I scrub, I can still see it.

It was supposed to be one of those nights you remember with fondness, it was our first date, and I thought it had gone well, if only we hadn't decided to walk along the water. In an instant everything changed.

I remember feeling something heavy against the back of my head and then nothing until I woke to Abby's scream and the rough feel of cement against my cheek. From there it was like I had no control of my actions and I might as well have been standing outside myself watching a movie. All I could think of was saving Abby, protecting her as I hadn't been able to protect so many in my life.

In an instant I was on the man, pulling him off her, before I turned him to face me. I didn't need any words, I couldn't have found them had I wanted them. I hit him, over and over and over again and even when I heard the sound of his skull cracking, saw the blood, I couldn't stop myself. I had to protect Abby.

You don't want to believe that you're capable of such rage, but, there it was, staring me in the face even after Abby was able to get me to stop. Watching them work on him, I knew there was no hope, he might as well have been dead on the pavement where he had fallen.

Don't touch me. It doesn't matter that he hurt me, that he might have hurt Abby had I not stopped him, I don't want your sympathy. I'd been out of control and I'd killed him. Now someone else would mourn a loved one's loss as I had mourned mine for all these years, and still I can't get the blood off my hands.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 335
Silver Bells
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling
of Christmas

Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner
you'll hear


"Busy day for him." Niko kept his voice quiet as he spoke, the sight of his brother with his sleeping son in his arms, one he wasn't ready to see interrupted.

"Busy day for all of us." Luka shifted slightly in his chair, before returning to the soothing act of rubbing Joe's back.

"It was a good day, Luka." Pushing off the doorframe, the elder of the Kovac sons moved to take a seat in their father's chair.

"How could it be a good day?" Luka's voice held disbelief as he began to respond.

"We buried Tata, Joe's separated from his mother at a time when he needs her the most. My wife started drinking again because I abandoned my family..." His words drifted off as they failed him.

"It was a good day because we came together as a family for Tata. Luka, I know we've had our differences over the years, I know we didn't always agree with Tata's treatment, but, we put all that aside today." Niko's voice remained low as he spoke.

"I'm sorry Abby couldn't be here with you, I'm sorry Tata never had a chance to meet her and your son, but, he sees them now, he sees them with you, and he knows how much they mean to you, how much you love them and they love you." He paused, and in that moment of looking up at his brother he caught a glimpse of him much younger, and though his look was the same, his family was larger.

"Luka, you were meant to be a husband and a father and Tata was so happy for you when he learned that you would know that feeling again. That never changed because he hadn't met them. If he wanted one thing for you, this was it, and now, everyday from this one forward he'll be with you, just the way Danijela and the kids have always been with you." Niko found a smile surfacing even as he fought to hold back his own tears.

"I've always been jealous of you, maybe that's why I was angry at you for leaving when you did. I wanted so badly to have what you had, and now, I see it in you all over again." His smile faded, as he finally put to words the resentment he'd held onto for so many years, and that which had caused the rift between them.

"You've been given a gift Luka, a gift that I still can only dream of, and I envy you that, but, if anyone deserves it, you do." Niko finally paused to let his words settle, and for several minutes the only sound in the small room was that of of the Christmas carol playing on the radio. It was hard to know what his brother was thinking, the wall that the other had built up to hide his emotions seemed to be wrapped tightly around him as he held his young son.

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
Home with their treasures

Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all this bustle
you'll hear


"Luka, as hard as it might be for you to do, it's time you started looking to the future instead of always living in the past. You have so much to look forward to, trust me, everything is going to work out with you and Abby, you have too many angels watching over you for it not to." It didn't surprise him that Luka remained silent as he finished, or that he seemed to hold his young son that much tighter. What did surprise him were the tears that wet his cheeks as his head rested against Joes, and he couldn't help but wonder if God's newest angel weren't already working his magic on both of them. Looking past his brother, Niko found the night skies brightest star, only to whisper.

"Merry Christmas, Tata." Yeah, it was a good day.

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day.



Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 637
It's an experience I never want to repeat, not just because of the mistakes that led to the worsening of Curtis Ames' condition, but for having to try and defend what I do to a group of people who can't possibly understand what it's like. When a patient comes into the Emergency Room we have to make life and death decisions on their care, within minutes of a person's arrival at times.

When Curtis Ames entered the ER, he presented with symptoms of what at first resembled a simple flu. Yes, his condition was complicated by dehydration and possible pneumonia, and his decision not to be admitted to the hospital as a patient, but, I had no reason to think it would become more then it was. It's not normal for patients to spend the amount of time he did in the ER, and while it may have seemed to him that I was neglecting him, I was in fact keeping informed with what was happening on his treatment as I worked on patients who were in far worse condition then he was.

Sitting in that Courtroom, it was hard not to lose my temper as I listened to Curtis Ames and his lawyer twist the truth about what had happened during the time he was under my care. Then, when I tried to explain the truth, I'm the one who is at fault for not simply answering the questions being asked of me. What is so wrong with me wanting the jury to understand why things happened the way that they did?

When the case finally went to the jury I didn't know what to expect from them, looking at their faces that last time before they left for deliberations, all I could do was wonder who in their eyes was the more believable. Curtis Ames had tried to influence their decision of course, that final day he'd arranged to have his ex-wife and children present, he needed them to see the family that had been impacted by my actions. I chose to go the opposite direction, and I think if I'd had the choice I wouldn't have even been physically present, what was the point, I'd said what I'd done, nothing could change that no matter what took place in the courtroom. My fate was in their hands and all I could do was wait for their verdict.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 404
If you had asked me this last year I would have said it was the news Abby gave me that she was pregnant. I admit, neither of us knew for sure what it meant for our relationship, and as much as I might want another child, I couldn't force her into carrying one if she didn't. I knew about her fears of being a mother, her fear of carrying the illness that her mother and brother shared into her child even though it had spared her, can I blame her? I never wanted Abby to think I only wanted a child as a replacement for those I had lost, and it seemed important that these and all of our other concerns be worked out between us, so there was never any question as to why we wanted the life that she carried within her.

We made it through those months, and whatever lingering doubts we had vanished as soon as we saw his face, in that moment I knew it didn't matter if there were no more children between us, he was all we needed to be complete as a family. As fate would have it, complications with Joe's birth will keep Abby from carrying anymore children. Those early months of his life were so difficult for all of us, and there were times when I was afraid he wouldn't survive, but, he beat the odds, and today he's healthy, and happy,

So, if you were to ask me that same question now, I would say it was Joe himself, for in giving me my son, Abby found a way to give me back a part of life I thought I would never know again, and I can't think of a greater gift than that.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words:295
I ran away. If you had asked me then I would have denied it, but, it's true. I hated my life, hated the man I had become, and this seemed a way to escape. I tried to tell myself I was going to the Congo to help others but, even if I wasn't ready to admit it, in truth I was looking for a place to hide. Chicago had become too dangerous for me, too dangerous for those around me. Erin, Rick, how many more would have suffered injury or death if I hadn't left when I did?

Life in the Congo allowed me to escape into a world I hadn't realized existed. In the beginning nothing really changed for me, I worked my shifts, and once I was finished, I would drink until I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open, or until I found someone to fall into bed with. I'm not sure that I deliberately taunted death, but, I know I didn't do anything to avoid putting myself at risk, or those around me for that matter. I know I didn't see any of my actions clearly until after Carter and Gillian left Matenda, and by then it was too late. Sakima, Chance, Patrique, all of them were ready to put there lives before mine. Patrique went so far as to give his for me, and it wasn't until I thought it was my turn that I even realized, the gift I had been wasting.

It wasn't until I returned to Chicago that I really had a chance to realize how much I owed to each of them, how much I owed Carter for coming back for me. I think I knew then that I had to change, I owed it not just to Patrique's memory, but to those who had survived. They had to have seen some worth in me that I had lost sight of, and now it was up to me to find it again, to re-claim those missing pieces so I could once more become whole. I owed it to them, but, more importantly, I owed it to myself.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 358
"Abby? Can you hear me? I'm sorry, the connection isn't very good, how's Joe?." Luka pressed his cheek against the phone as he moved through his father's house.

"I can't believe he's walking already, I wish I could be there with you both, or you could be here." Picking up the her most recent letter from the stack of mail that sat on the table he quickly tore it open.

"I have it here." A smile quickly replaced the expression of sadness that had been on his face as he discovered the photographs that his wife had included with her note.

"Oh, Abby, he's getting so big." He flipped through the other pictures as he listened to her voice on the other end of the call.

"I wish you had sent one of you together, but, if all goes well with the construction, I should be home within a week, a week and a half at the most." He shook his head as he heard her sigh of frustration."

"Abby, I know, if I could leave sooner I would, but, we have to make sure Tata can get around on his own if he needs to...Abby, don't, I'm sorry, it's not that I don't want to, I just can't just leave this to Niko to do alone." He hated the sound of the anger that washed over his words, but, was powerless to stop it.

"I promise, as soon as I can leave I will. Kiss Joe for me, I love you too." He held the phone for a moment more as the call ended, they would get through this as they had gotten through so many other obstacles that had been placed before them.

"Only a little while more." He whispered the words as if she still might hear even though the call had been severed.

"Stay strong for me Abby, stay strong for Joe...I know you can do it, our love will help you cope with whatever happens, all you have to do is believe in yourself as much as I believe in you." He wiped the tears away before setting the phone back in it's cradle

"Just believe." He whispered the words a final time as he closed his eyes and pictured Abby in his mind, all he could do was hope she could cope with whatever happened until he got back, hope that she could stay strong, for herself and for Joe. He was powerless to do anything more.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 413
1. What is the best prank or practical joke that you have ever pulled on someone OR that has been pulled on you?

I didn't know anything about April Fools or the tricks that came with it at the time I saw my first prank pulled, I didn't even know it was a prank at the time. There was an out of control patient in one of the exam rooms at County, at the time I didn't even wonder why his head was covered. He was yelling, and no one seemed able to get him under control, it was only after I'd injected him with Haldol and he unmasked himself that I learned he was one of our doctors and it was all a prank. I felt sorry for Malucci afterward, he was left to finish his shift while barely able to stay awake and in the end he finally gave up and found a bed to sleep off the Haldol in, and it was there I decided to try my hand at my own prank. I guess I was a little too new at it though, and I think it's a good thing I wasn't on duty to see Malucci's reaction when he woke up and found his hand super-glued to his forehead.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 192
Young Girl – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run girl,
You're much too young girl

With all the charms of a woman
You've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe
You're old enough
To give me Love
And now it hurts to know the truth, Oh,

Beneath your perfume and make-up
You're just a baby in disguise
And though you know
That it is wrong to be
Alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes, Oh,

So hurry home to your mama
I'm sure she wonders where you are
Get out of here
Before I have the time
To change my mind
'Cause I'm afraid we'll go too far, Oh,
Young girl

Stipe nudged Tomo, as he caught Luka's fixed gaze on the table across the crowded coffeehouse. The three had been friends since childhood, and each knew the others as well as if they had been brothers, a fact that only made what they were seeing now all the more entertaining.

"Watch, he won't even notice." Stipe reached for several sugar packets and after concealing them behind his hand he tore away the top of them.

"You're not." Tomo's words already had the start of a withheld laugh concealed within them.

"Shhh." The other man reached across the table to pour the sugar into Luka's coffee, even as Tomo smothered a laugh behind his hand, and received a kick under the table for the slip.

"Ouch, that hurt." He reached down to rub his shin as he voiced the complaint, making more of the injury then was needed.

"Luka, drink your coffee, Luka." Stipe pushed the cup closer as he tried to draw the darkest of the three's attention back to their table and away from the one that held three teen-aged girls in school uniforms.

"Hmm, oh, yeah." It was all he could do to force his eyes away from the girl that held him transfixed, and he brought the cup to his lips with barely a glance at it, until he spit the coffee back into it.

"What the hell." He shook his head and reached for his glass of water as his friends burst out in hysterics over the success of their prank.

"Why don't you just go talk to her, instead of just sitting here staring at her day after day?" Tomo found it next to impossible to get his laughter under control, despite the glare he was receiving from his friend.

"I can't, not yet." Luka glanced back over to the table of girls, afraid that the actions of the other two might already have drawn undo attention their way. It was only after he was sure that the girls had not noticed, and in fact were still occupied with their own conversation that he allowed himself to relax and see the humor in his friend's prank.

"How long are you going to wait, it's been over a week already. Face it Luka, we know you too well, which one is it? It was Stipe's turn to question him and as he did he turned his attention to the trio across the room.

"I'm thinking the one with the short blond hair." Tomo cocked his head slightly as he eyed the three.

"No, not the blond." Luka shook his head, his dimples deepening as he was finally forced to admit what he had been keeping to himself.

"The one with the dark curls." He propped his chin in his palm as he returned his gaze to her again, his mind already beginning to shut out the outside noises as she became his entire focus.

"I've never felt like this before, it's like she's all I can think about." His words grew softer before finally fading into nothingness.

"You're in love, Luka, you may as well accept it and go talk to her." As the oldest of the three of them Stipe decided it was obligation to finally force his friend into action.

"I don't even know her, how can I be in love with her?" Luka's skepticism registered clearly on his face as he expressed his own doubts to what his friend was saying.

"What else are you going to call it? You can't take your eyes off of her, I'll bet when you can't see her you're still thinking about her, am I right?" Stipe mirrored Kovac's pose, propping his own chin in his palm as he sat across from him.

"You'd better do something quick, they're getting ready to go." Tomo pointed to the girl's table as he caught sight of the sudden movement of them gathering their schoolbooks and bags, in preparation of leaving.

"Tomorrow, I'll talk to her tomorrow." Even as he made the decision, Luka felt his stomach tighten into a knot, what was he going to say to her? Twenty-four hours wasn't nearly enough time for him to figure it out...

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 679
Name of Muse: dr_luka_kovac

Fandom/Type of Muse: ER

Link to muse profile page: http://dr-luka-kovac.livejournal.com/profile

Mun name, nickname or handle: JD

Best way to get a message to the mun: AzizalSaqr@aol.com

Do you use AIM or any other IM? AOL/AIM

One hundred words about the muse that everyone should know: Born in Croatia, Luka married his first wife, Danijela when he was 20, and she was just 18. They had two children, a daughter, Jasna, and a son, Marko. During the War of Independence in 1991, while Luka was gone, a bomb struck their apartment building, instantly killing his 18 month old son and injuring his wife and 5 year old daughter. When Luka returned home, he struggled for hours to keep his daughter alive, performing CPR on her while calling for help which never came, eventually he would lose them too.

Luka relocated to the United States in hopes of starting a new life and eventually he found himself at County General in Chicago, first as a Moonlighter, and eventually in a permanent position. Over the next eight years he worked his way up to Chief of Emergency Medicine, only to resign the position after he realized that he would rather be performing medicine than sitting in meetings all day. Luka recently married Abby Lockhart, and the two have a son, Joe, who is almost a year old.

Prompt only, or available to roleplay? Would consider role-play depending on who it was with and the circumstances behind it.

Posting tag: realm of the muse

Link to memories or tag page showing RotM posts: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=dr_luka_kovac&keyword=Realm+of+the+Muse&filter=all
How many times would he be forced to endure it?

Luka moaned in his sleep as the dream began to unfold, the imagery growing somehow darker each time he was forced to relive it. Shifting restlessly, he pushed the comforter aside, hearing Joe's cries through the door as Curtis Ames followed him out of the apartment. What if he never saw Joe again? What if his last words to Abby were ones he had spoken in anger? He should know what happened next, he'd already experienced this, but somehow, he was left wondering, the answers dangling in the mist, just out of his reach.

The fear rose steadily as his memories of the night unraveled, from the conversation in Ames' car which had ended in anger with the man slamming his pistol against Luka's jaw. The pain so real, that he was unable to stop himself from crying out in his sleep, his hand cradling his face as if he expected to find it once again bloody and bruised.

Oh, God, his breathing grew shaky as they neared the house, he knew something terrible was coming, if only he could remember what it was. They climbed the steps of the porch, and forced the door open only to be hit with a waft of stale air which reeked of mold and disuse. Luka began to fight against it in his sleep, his moans loud enough that they would have woke Abby had she been there beside him.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl and he no longer heard the words that Curtis Ames spoke, and then it was time. Oh, God, he didn't want to do it...the fear, so strong he could taste it now, the gunshot so loud and he had no choice but to comply. The cold metal against his hand, tighter and tighter...

His scream pierced the darkness of the bedroom and suddenly Abby was there, pulling him close, easing him somehow to consciousness as he cradled the hand that in his mind was newly crushed. His tears dampened her shirt as she held him, whispering words meant to soothe and reassure, words that she hoped would one day allow him to forget. If only he could...

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 375
What person in your muse's life, either by canon or in roleplay, has most affected their personality in your writing of them?

The character of Luka Kovac has always been a challenge, an enigma who, for a large part of the series, kept his real self hidden away. Luka has almost presented himself as two people, the man he was before the War of Independence, and the one who works at County General in Chicago.

There have been very few times when we were given glimpses into that mysterious world of Luka's past and they have been doled out to us as if they were expensive candies. A morsel at a time they would appear and we would savor each, never knowing when the next would arrive.

In Luka's case it wasn't a single person, but rather three, his wife Danijela, his five year old daughter, Jasna, and his eighteen month old son, Marko. Three ghosts of the family long dead are the keys that unlock the mystery of who Luka was, and shed light on how he's become the man we see him as now.

There were only a handful of shows in which Luka shared his past, but in them we learned so much and through those glimpses we couldn't help but understand the pain that he held so close. Luka continues to walk a fine line of vulnerability, his need to protect his new family balanced precariously against his fears of losing them as he lost his first. It's this constant struggle as well as his moments of joy at having once more been give the chance to experience the joys of being a husband and father that continue to make him a pleasure and challenge to write for.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 278
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