Part 2
By Pat

As he parked his car and walked towards the ambulance bay doors, Luka felt the heat and humidity of the day wrap around him like a wet blanket. “And its not even 7 a.m. yet,” he mused, “hope the AC in the ER keeps working.” With the heat wave that had gripped the city, Luka knew they could expect to be busy.

As he walked through the doors on his way to his locker, he spotted some of his colleagues at the desk. “Good morning all! Hot enough?” he questioned, giving them a smile as he walked by, leaving at least four people staring after him in surprise.

“Who was that man?” Chuny giggled,

“Looked like Dr. Kovac, sounded like Dr. Kovac”, Haleh replied, “but much too cheerful. A Kovac clone?” she joked.

After the laughter died down, Lydia commented, “Wonder what has brightened our good doctor's mood these days, do you suppose he's....” she started to speculate when Malucci, who also had been standing there, interrupted her....

“Getting some?” he chortled. “What???” he asked, as four women turned to glare at him. If looks could kill, Dr. Dave would have dropped on the spot.

“Dr. Malucci,” Kerry Weaver addressed him in an icey voice. “Speculating about a colleague's personal life is not only unbecoming, but extremely unprofessional. I would suggest you keep such remarks to yourself.”

“Yes, Chief, sorry.” he mumbled, picking up a chart and disappearing. Dr. Dave knew when a strategic retreat was in order!

Looking at the board, Kerry suggested they all get to work. As the nurses dispersed, Kerry found herself wondering at the change in her colleague, it seemed something, or someone, was drawing him out of the depression that had been a part of his personality from his first day at County. Kerry knew that everyone thought of her as the “frigid bitch” of the ER, but the compassionate Kerry was glad that Luka had found some happiness, he certainly had earned it.

While stowing his gear and shrugging into his white lab coat, Luka fervently prayed the day would prove to be a quiet one. He didn't get much sleep last night, and now he really could use some coffee. He was going to be tired today, but the cause was well worth it. Jennifer had been in Canada for a week at a competition, and last night was her first night home. They had spent that night in his large bed, laughing, talking, making had been difficult to leave her still sleeping this morning, her bright hair spread across his pillow. He had placed a quick kiss on her lips, telling her to sleep; he'd see her after his shift. He smiled again, recalling her sleepy response, “My place, feed horsies.”

Waking slowly, Jennifer stretched lazily, wincing slightly as her muscles protested; recalling how Luka had been very 'inventive' during the night, manipulating her body into positions she didn't think were humanly possible. Reaching over she grabbed his pillow, hugging it to her. She enjoyed the lingering scent of his aftershave. She had been overjoyed to see Luka waiting there at the airport for her, surprising him by running and jumping into his arms - surprise, hell, she'd almost knocked him off his feet! But, god, she had missed him that week in Canada. The bed in the hotel had been so empty, and the pillow on which she laid her head wasn't the same as his broad, well-muscled chest, feeling the rise and fall of his steady breathing, listening to the beat of his heart, the feel of his arms around her.

Not only had she been lonely, the competition had not gone well either. Riding, competing had always been her lifeline. Jennifer had come to count on this to keep away the ghosts of the past, the worries of the present; she could put everything else out of her mind, concentrating only on the subtlety of the reins in her hands and the movements of her horse. That's how she had won those medals. But it wasn't working now. As she had walked the coarse, instead of concentrating on counting strides between jumps, she had found herself picturing Luka's face, hearing his deep masculine voice, the touch of his hands. In fact, she had almost taken a bad fall because she had miscalculated a jump. “Jennifer my girl, you will not make Sydney if you keep this up!” she chided herself as she tossed back the blankets, trying to ignore the voice in her head that whispered, “And would that be so bad?”

His shift had finally come to an end, and Luka was exhausted as he finished up a few chart notes. He had handed off the board to Mark Greene and now he could finally get out of here. It had been an extremely busy day. This heat wave was taking its toll. His mood darkened as he thought of the five elderly people who had died from the heat, simply because they had no one who cared enough to check on them. As Luka walked to his car he glanced at the sky. He could see in the distance what looked like storm clouds. Good, he thought, maybe it will rain and cool things down! As he drove off he debated about just going home to his apartment, which was much closer than Jennifer's house out in the suburbs, but the aspect of spending the night in that empty apartment, brooding on the past, was even worse than being tired.

Jennifer glanced out the window when she heard the car. As she watched Luka getting out of the car she thought how totally worn and haggard he looked, it was almost as if it was a struggle for him to get out of the seat. Throwing open the door she hurried towards him. “Are you all right, luv? You look terrible!” Gathering her to him, “I'm fine,” Luka replied, “Just tired, thats all.” Jennifer wrapped her arm around his waist, “Lets get you inside out of this heat, then,” she said, “I've got a nice cold pitcher of electric lemonade waiting in the frig!” She was amused by the confused look that crossed his face. “What is that?” he asked. Giggling, Jennifer told him “It's a cold drink - lemonade kicked up with a splash of gin!” Luka smiled at her, a cold drink sounded very good! As they walked towards the house, Jennifer kept her arm around him, I can't catch him, she thought, but I can soften the fall when he lands on me.

Once inside Jennifer steered Luka towards the sofa. “Here,” she said gently pushing him down on to the cushions, “You stretch out and rest, I'll be right back with our drinks.” Returning from the kitchen, Jennifer handed Luka a tall icey glass. She laughed at the way he looked at it suspiciously. "Try it!” she urged, as she sipped her own drink. Taking a very tentative sip, Luka exclaimed, “This is good!” “Told ya so!” she quipped, laughing even more at the look he gave her!

Once she was sure he was comfortable, Jennifer settled herself on the floor next to him. With his strict code of manners, Luka couldn't stay on the sofa while she sat on the floor, and he started to get up. “Don't you move!” Jennifer scolded. “I can't take the whole sofa while you sit on the floor.” Luka protested. “You can, and you will.” she told him firmly, “I'm right where I want to be!” As he gave in to her, and settled back down on the pillow she had tucked behind him, Luka admitted to himself, he did rather enjoy having someone taking care of him for a change. “Are you hungry? Jennifer inquired. He shook his head no; he was too tired to eat. “Ok,” she replied, “I'll fix us something later.” As they sat quietly talking about her day/his day, Luka's fingers played with the curls that had escaped from her ponytail, occasionally running his finger down her cheek. Between his exhaustion and the alcohol, he could barely keep his eyes open, “I'm sorry,” he murmured, “I know I'm not very good company tonight.” “Hush,” she told him, “you just close your eyes and rest.” Luka felt her lips brush across his, but before he could respond, the badly needed sleep finally overtook him.

Jennifer quietly rose and walked to the window. Looking out she could see dark clouds gathering in the distance. A storm was approaching. She hated storms. Walking to her CD player, she picked out her favorite “Clannad” recording, and started it playing very softly, she didn't want to wake Luka. As she stood letting the music surround her, songs sung in the Gaelic language of her homeland, she allowed the memories to fill her mind - misty mornings, the emerald green hills, funny little Connemara ponies, riding to the hounds on bold Irish thoroughbreds. Beautiful memories, until the dark, painful ones invaded, driving away the happy ones. Knowing they could quickly overwhelm her, she had to focus her mind on something else. Instinctively, she looked for Luka. She curled up in her favorite chair so she could watch him. He looked so vulnerable in his sleep, almost like a child again. Looking at him, Jennifer knew at that moment, she loved him. Loved him more than anything else in the whole world and with every fiber of her being. How could this have happened? She had sworn never to allow anyone close to her again. She could not survive another loss. 'Love 'em and leave em,' as the saying went, was what she should have done, but now it was too late. Luka had torn down the walls she had so carefully built, and Jennifer knew he was now in her heart forever. She sat unmoving in the dwindling light, as outside the storm clouds gathered.

End Part 2


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