"In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…amen." The Bishop's words were soft, and as they faded, he allowed his hand to linger on Luka's head, giving the man time to gain control of the emotions his confession had raised.

"Amen." He repeated the word automatically before giving into the grief that reliving the deaths had raised. For eight years he had kept the memories of that day to himself, bearing the shame of his failures as punishment for his own survival.

"Luka, it's my burden now." He would never know if Bishop Stewart knew those would be his final words, but, within minutes of reaffirming what he knew to be the power of the confessional he was gone. It took Luka another minute to realize the man had crossed over and as he did, he rose and began switching off the various support machines.

Why now? When Danijela and their children's lives had been taken he had turned his back on the Church, now, after so many years he finally has someone he can talk to and he too is taken, it made no sense, or did it? The dilemma placed before him left him struggling, but, he couldn't deny that the Bishop had opened the door for his return to the Church. Was that the plan he had in mind for him all along?

"Doctor Kovac, how is he?" Father Joe's voice broke into his thoughts and he turned toward the door to see the Bishop's Aide standing there, the look of concern clearly etched on his face.

"I'm sorry, Father, he's gone." There was nothing he could say that would soften the blow, a loss was a loss, the pain the same no matter how prepared you thought you were for it.

"I'll give you some time alone, and, Father, maybe, in the next couple days if you have some time, we could talk?" It was a start. Bishop Stewart had opened the door for his return to the Church, if he were going to step through it, anything else was up to him.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 353
You've been away from someone or someplace for a very long time. Write a fic about the moment that you first see the person or the place, and the feeling you have. Has anything changed? Have you changed?

How long had it been? Six years, seven? As he sat on the plane, waiting for it to taxi into it's position at the terminal, Luka was surprised to find his stomach tightening into a knot.

What was he nervous about? It wasn't as if he and his father hadn't been talking during those years of separation, and there certainly hadn't been any sort of ill will when they had last parted, so, what was it then?

As his gaze wandered to the view outside the plane, Luka tried to hone in on something specific that might be darkening what should be a happy reunion. It would be easy to lay the blame for how he was feeling on his relationship, or his lack of a relationship with his brother, Niko. After all, what had it been, almost ten years since they had last exchanged anything more then an impersonal hi, how are you, or discussed anything other than their father? It was time to try and undo what his pain and anger at the loss of his family had done to his relationship with his brother. At one time they had been best friends, was it possible for them to find their way back to that place again or had they waited too long?

This wasn't only about Niko though, this was about the relationship he had with his father as well, and the secrets and feelings he'd kept from the man for far too long. As the passengers began de-boarding he knew that the conversations that would come were not going to be easy ones, but, they were ones that were long overdue. These were conversations he had run away from, conversations he had hidden from, but, with the news that now brought him back to Croatia, they were ones that now needed to be addressed, no matter how painful they might be. While much of the talk would undoubtedly revolve around Danijela and the children, it was time he shared other secrets with his father. He would use this time to talk about what happened in the Congo, he would tell him about the mugger, and Curtis Ames. Hardest of all though would be talking about Abby, and about his fears when he thought they might lose Joe.

Once through Customs, Luka scanned those waiting for either his father or brother, if not both. He'd left Croatia all those years ago vowing never to return. At the time, he was convinced that all it held were reminders of death and destruction, and those who had been taken from him too soon. Coming back now, he hoped it would trigger other memories, memories of happier times. Who knows, maybe one day he could bring Abby and Joe back with him, and he could share with them the places that meant so much to him what now seems a lifetime ago. At the sight of his father and Niko in the crowd he raised a hand to wave. Had his father always been so small?

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 504
Coffee this bad could only have been served in a hospital, he was sure of it. Despite that fact he found himself taking yet another sip before returning his attention to the chart that sat on the desk in front of him. How much longer was Romano going to keep this power struggle with Weaver up? It wasn't like either of them were going to change how they did things and in the meantime it seemed the only ones suffering were the patients because of the short staffing, and him, because of having to take on her shifts in addition to his own. The thought was not one that was a welcome one, and without thinking he downed another swallow of the coffee from the cup sitting beside the chart he was working on. He'd had worse, and what were his alternatives? Sure, he could make the trip across the street to Doc Magoos, or he could make a fresh pot, but, both would mean getting up, and the truth was he was far too tired to put that much effort into it. It wasn't like the coffee was going to kill him.

He took another sip, only to swipe his tongue across his teeth as he finished, it might however strip the enamel off his teeth if he drank too many cups. The thought lingered only as long as it took for him to release a breath and force his attention back onto the chart in front of him. Funny how bad coffee and hospitals seemed to go hand in hand no matter where you were, it had to be one of the world's great conspiracies. The thought prompted a slight rumble of suppressed laughter before it was washed away with another swallow of the dark brew. He was losing it, too many shifts in too few days, it was time for Weaver and Romano to make peace before he went completely insane.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 330
"Luka, how did you get this scar?" The question had been an innocent one, asked as he and Abby had shared the intimacy of post coital drowsiness. She'd been curled alongside him at the time, trailing her fingers along his skin as if she were trying to memorize every detail with her touch. When she had reached the dimpled imperfection in his thigh she had paused, and he knew he would never forget the furrowing of her brow as she rose up on her arm so she could see with her eyes what her fingers had first discovered.

"It looks like a bullet wound." Even as she identified it she'd dared him to prove her wrong.

"It is...don't." He'd pushed her hand away then, and something in his tone had warned her against asking more about it. She hadn't heeded the warning though, and despite his words she had persisted.

"How did it happen? Luka, please, tell me." She lowered herself back to rest on his chest, thinking to make it easier for him to talk if he were not forced to face her directly.

"Did it happen during the war? The question came even more quietly, as if she somehow thought that alone might make it easier for him to explain.

"Yes." Luka's voice held a finality to it as he offered the confirmation, and she found herself wondering if he wouldn't have fled the bed if it weren't for the fact that her weight still held him there.

"Will you tell me about it?" She wasn't sure why she didn't let it go, though his sigh clearly revealed his patience was almost at it's end.

"There's nothing to tell, Abby, I was fleeing Vukovar, I was shot. Now let it go." Sliding out from under her he made his way to the bathroom without saying anything more, as the door clicked closed behind him she realized too late that she'd pushed him too hard. One day she would learn, one day.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 335
Note: The Abby mentioned here is an NPC and does not represent any of those in play within LJ.
(Yes, I know I already posted on this once, but, Luka demanded he have a chance to make amends on one other situation that weighs heavy on him despite the number of years that have passed since it's occurrence.)

How do I begin to ask forgiveness for actions that ultimately resulted in the ending of three lives? It seems impossible to consider but, that's exactly what I'm doing after all these years. It's taken me over 16 years to realize that I cannot continue to hold onto the guilt over mistakes I made before I could truly understand the consequences of my actions. I look back over my life now, all that I have been through, the good and the bad, and I realize just how naive Danijela and I were.

From the moment I saw Danijela in that Zagreb coffeehouse, I knew there was something about her that made her different about every other girl I'd been around. Once I worked up the courage to introduce myself, and actually began talking to her, I realized just how right I was. Almost two years passed between that first day and the one in which we became man and wife, and while we might have thought we knew everything we could know about each other, there are times where I wondered if we knew anything at all. Despite our differences, and the hardships we both knew would come while I was in school, within 9 months of our marriage, we welcomed our first child, a daughter.

The next few years were happy ones for us, we had our daughter, the support of our families, and friends, and of course I still had classes as well as work to keep me busy. Life for us wasn't easy, we were never rich, and at times we struggled, but, we were always happy. When it was learned that my approaching residency would mean moving to Vukovar we found ourselves filled with mixed emotions. For both of us, this would prove to be the first time we would find any real distance between us and our families, and almost as quickly, Danijela learned that she was once again pregnant. We both worried about being so far away from home, so far from those we loved at a time such as that, but we knew too, that we had no choice, and 9 months later, we welcomed our son into our growing family.

It would be easy to say that life fell into a routine for us, and I suppose in a way it did, for both Danijela and I loved parenting and when I wasn't working, we wanted nothing more then to spend time with our children. If we had any regrets during that time, it was only that we were so far away from our families, and our tight finances made visits home few and far between.

In the almost 16 years since that fateful day I've thought often about how life was for us then. I've looked back with fondness on all of those cherished happy times, the birthdays, celebrations with our families. I've woke drenched in sweat when during sleep I found myself trapped in the nightmare of that final day, unable to change it's outcome. I look back now on the conversations Danijela and I had over those first days and weeks on the War and I wonder how we couldn't have seen what seems so clear now. I wonder why I didn't force her to take the children and go to our parents, and then I realize that her own stubbornness would never have allowed for it. Even now, as I ask for forgiveness for the choices we made together, I realize I should have put Danijela and our children before my residency, and it's that above all else that I ask forgiveness for most. Nothing seems more important now than her knowing that even while I might not have acted as if it were the case, I would have given my life to save theirs. So are the mistakes of our youth, and as I ask now for forgiveness of those choices we made together so many years ago. I know I cannot undo them, and those memories, as with all the others I hold close, for they are all I have left of those who are with me no more.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 595
When I first learned that my father was ill, there was no question that I would need to return to Croatia. Of course in an ideal situation, I would have had Abby and Joe go with me, but that was impossible, there wasn't time, at least not at first. Without knowing how severe Tata's condition was, or what he would be needing as far as tests and treatment, it seemed unfair to ask Abby to put her life on hold and to potentially sit in a hospital for days on end with Joe while Niko and I sat with our father. In the end, the decision was made that I would go back to Croatia alone, and with luck, maybe I could convince my father to return to the States for his treatment.

So much for good intentions. My initial stay in Croatia with my father lasted almost six months as we learned that his condition was far more grave than any of us initially thought. Despite my attempts, I couldn't convince my father to leave Croatia while he was under-going treatment, and between over-seeing his care, complications that arose from the treatment, and then the arrangements for his rehabilitation, time seemed to just get away from us.

When it seemed that Tata's health had stabilized I jumped at the chance to return home to Abby and Joe, and as a surprise I brought my brother Niko with me. For far too many years we had barely spoken, but, our father's illness had offered us a way to repair the rift between and now was my chance to introduce him to my new family. The family he had always told me I would one day have, even while I refused to believe him. I wasn't sure how long I'd be staying, and while I missed them while I was away from them, what I wanted most was to finally take my family home to meet my father. Unfortunately, that never happened, and before anything could be done, the call we had dreaded most came, Tata was gone.

How do I begin to forgive myself for all the years I wasted wallowing in my own grief? How do I forgive myself for not realizing that his grief was just as great, if not greater for he had not only lost a daughter and two grand-children, but, surely to him, he had lost his son as well? How now, do I begin to forgive myself of denying him the chance in his final months to know his new grandson, and daughter? To know the family he had only dreamed would ever become a reality? How could I be so selfish? I'm sorry Tata.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 455
Nina Simone – Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair

Black is the color of my true love's hair
His face so soft and wondrous fair
The purest eyes
and the strongest hands
I love the ground on where he stands

While Luka had fallen in love with Danijela at first sight, for the teenager, it had taken longer. In those first days she wasn't even aware that she had caught the tall college student's eye, if she was perhaps things might have unfolded differently, as it were, each continued on their separate paths until he grew bold enough to take that next step.

Once he had discovered that she and her friends visited the coffeehouse every afternoon he made a point of altering his schedule so he could be there as well. He had to study, what difference did it make where he did the work? If Tomo and Stipe, or better yet Gordana, wanted to tag along, all the better, at least it wouldn't draw undue attention to what he was doing.

Through the course of the next couple of weeks he put his plan to catch her eye into motion. Whether it was as she moved from the counter to a table with her coffee, or simply as she glanced around the small shop during a lull in the conversation, it would have been hard for her not to miss the dark haired man's eyes on her. If by chance their eyes would meet, her shy smile would usually be accompanied by an embarrassed blush as if she were not quite sure how to react to his attention.

It was hard too to say why he didn't simply go up and talk to her from the start, later he would claim it was her age, in truth he wondered if there was more to it then that. Once he had her eye, he was ready to take things to the next level, and so he anonymously arranged for her drink to be paid for over several days, next, he added a sweet to her order, before finally venturing forward to identify himself.

In that simple task, he knew he would be undergoing more than just her scrutiny, he would be subjected to that of her friends as well, and he wondered which was worse. Over the course of the weeks that he had been watching her, the actions of the girls with her had not been lost on him, the way that they giggled over this person or that, the private jokes whispered behind upraised hands. How many times had he wondered if he himself hadn't been the brunt of their latest joke, or the subject of their conversation. As he approached the table where the girls sat, all he could think of beside how beautiful the dark haired teen was, was that he would finally know for sure.

Once the introductions were made, it was as if everyone around them faded into the background and they may has well been alone for the notice they took of anyone except each other. Over the course of the next several weeks the afternoon coffees expanded to stolen meetings on weekends as well, and gradually Luka was introduced to Danijela's parents. By then though, the young couple had already realized that they would one day marry. Out of respect to Danijela's parents, they would wait until she turned 18 to wed, but, they were sure fate had brought them together, and noow, it was only her age that was delaying what they now both knew was their destiny.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 559
As I sit here on this park bench watching our son play near-by, I can't help but wish that Abby were here with me, with us. So many of these last few months have been ones we've spent apart, one or the other en-charged with the care of our son, when what he needs most is the love and guidance of both of his parents. I worry sometimes about how these months will affect him in years to come, if they will affect him, and then I wonder how they cannot.

I know that the time Abby is taking now, is time she needs to take for her well-being, time that can only benefit Joe and our relationship in the future, but, that doesn't make the separation any less difficult. As I look now at how Abby's absence will impact our son, I can't help but wonder how the time I was out of his life will affect him. There was no way I could anticipate my father's illness, any more then I could know that within days of my returning to the States, he would be gone.

"What do you have, Joe? Give it to me, baby, bring it to Tata."

Nothing would mean more to me now then to have my wife, Joe's mother here with us, maybe in time that will happen. For now, Joe and I will do this alone, but, he will know his mother loves him, he'll know she would be here if she could, and most of all, he'll know in time, we'll be a family again.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Words: 267
I only have to look at my wife and son to know that were it not for second chances my life as I know it would not exist. It's not just because I was married before, or that the deaths of my wife and children lay behind my reasons for leaving Croatia and coming to the United States.

Abby and I had a relationship not long after I accepted a permanent position at County, for far too many reasons, things didn't work out for us as a couple. Our break-up was a difficult one, we both said things we shouldn't have, things that were meant to hurt the other, and which, at least from my side, were almost immediately regretted. Over time we were able to repair the damage our words had done and I like to think we also succeeded in building a friendship far deeper than we might have had we not said what we did.

I don't think either Abby nor I realized that we'd progressed past the friendship stage again until we were already there, and I think in the early stages of that realization we were afraid of recognizing it. I know I found myself tip-toeing around the truth at first because I didn't want to take a chance of having things fall apart a second time.

I think we were both surprised to find out how much we both had changed once we finally allowed ourselves to trust our feelings and let whatever was going to happen, happen. Looking back now, I can see our early mistakes for what they were. I can see too, ways we might have been able to prevent things that had happened at that time, but, knowing that can only help me now, and as Abby and I encounter new obstacles, we will find ways to work through them together, as a couple, and as parents of a young son. Because of second chances, we are a family, for better or worse, till death do us part.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 339
dr_luka_kovac: (Congo collage)
( Feb. 5th, 2008 05:16 pm)
Your muse has been without sleep for several days, for some reason. Write a fic about the last hours before they finally do sleep.

I want to believe it's all a dream, that I'm already asleep and that all of the horror we have gone through, are going through is just part of a seemingly never-ending nightmare. Please, don't make this real.

I can hear the music so much more clearly now, it calls to me as I sit here in the dust, and blood of those whose lives have already been taken. Can't you hear it? It sounds like angels calling me and I have to wonder if it means my time is almost here. I have to make my peace, I have to ask for forgiveness for all the years I turned my back on the church, turned my back on God. I have to make it right if I want to be reunited with Danijela and our children.

It's fear that drives me, that finds the strength in my exhausted limbs to force me back to my knees, fear that makes me once more bow my head in prayer, that forces words from my dry and cracked lips.

"Oce nas, koji jesi na nebesima,
sveti se ime tvoje...
dodi kraljevstovo tvoje,
budi volja tvoja...

Kako na nebu tako tako i na zemlji.
Kruh nas svagdanji daj nam danas...

I otpusti nam duge nase
kado i mi otpustamo deznecima

I ne uvedi nas u napast,
nego izbavi nas od zia."

It's hard for me to understand all that is happening, as they grab me I'm sure it's to take me to the tent where all but Patrique met their deaths, but we don't go there. Instead, I find myself thrown into a truck where other dead already rest. The smell, oh God, the putrid smell of death is everywhere, and all I can do is lay there on top of the bodies, afraid to move, afraid to attract anymore attention. I can hear their voices around me now, and soon, other bodies are thrown into the truck, I'm afraid the weight of them will suffocate me, and I wonder what is the worst kind of death.

Suddenly we're moving, I don't understand, why not kill me where everyone else died? The motion of the truck could easily lull me to sleep if not for the stench from those all around me. Gasoline and exhaust fumes mingling with the over-powering smells coming off the bodies, sweat, urine, feces, but none more powerful then the blood as it leeches into my clothing wrapping itself around me until it claims me as it has it's victims.

When at long last the truck grinds to a halt I can only imagine that my time of death has finally come and I whisper again those silent prayers. I ask for forgiveness, begging God to allow me to find my way to those who joined him so many years before as hands grab at my clothing and pull me off the bodies. Squeezing my eyes closed, I pray that my death comes quickly but, instead of a bullet I find myself landing with a hard thud on the ground, and as I dare open my eyes again I find myself in the darkness of a small hut.

I'm beyond understanding, and when Sakima's voice whispers to me in my ear, and coaxes me to sip brackish water I do so willingly before giving in and allowing my eyes once again to slowly close. Her words are so quiet, and as she reassures me that safety is finally ours. I want to believe her, finally, at long last I can surrender to the sleep I have been denied. Sleep, as I edge closer to it I can't help but pray that when I wake I'll find that all of this has been just a dream...please, let it be just a dream...

(Luka's prayer is "The Lord's Prayer")

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 586 excluding the quote and the prayer