By Pat

What the hell is beeping? Luka wondered sleepily. Then he realized it had to be his beeper. Gently freeing himself from Jennifer's arms and legs, he got out of bed to find out who was annoying him on his day off. Glancing at the number with the 911 after it, he quickly phoned County.

“This is Dr. Kovac,” he said, “Who paged me?”

Mark Greene came on the line, “Sorry to page you Luka, I tried calling, but you obviously didn't hear the phone.” No, thought Luka, not from clear across town, trying to ignore the petulant tone in Mark's voice. “What did you need, Mark?” He inquired. “I need you to come in, we're short today, with Carter off, and Malucci calling in sick, things are piling up here!” Luka sighed. He really did not want to go in to work today, but his sense of duty took over and he told Greene, “Give me an hour and I'll be there.”

A quick shower and shave, and he was ready to leave. On the nightstand he propped up the note explaining his absence. Leaning over, he gently kissed his sleeping love. Luka smiled, she was out like a light, she didn't even move. Reluctantly he forced himself to leave. Whistling as he walked to his car, he noted that the storm had washed away the heat and humidity of the day before, and it was a bright new morning.

Several hours later, Jennifer's eyes opened, surprised at her lonely bed, before spotting the note on the nightstand. Reaching for it, she read, “Called into work. Didn't want to wake you, sleeping beauty. See you later. I love you! Luka.” “I love you too.” She said to the room. Then glancing at the clock she flew out of the bed. It was noon and her horses hadn't been fed yet! They were not going to be happy campers.

Dressing quickly, she ran to the barn. “I'm sorry kids.” She told her impatient horses as she scooped feed into buckets. Once she had everyone happily munching away, she pulled a bale of hay down from the stack. Daydreaming about Luka, Jennifer grabbed her knife to cut the twine that held the bale together. “Damn!” She yelled, as the knife slipped, leaving a large gash across her other hand. Quickly she wrapped a makeshift bandage around the cut. Sitting on the hay until the dizziness passed, Jennifer knew she needed some help. She wanted Luka, he'd know what to do, but glancing at the clock she saw it was still 4 to 5 hours before he would be home. As the throbbing in her hand increased, she headed for her car and the drive to County.

Looks like things are finally slowing down a bit, Luka thought. Maybe if he were lucky he'd be able to sneak out a little early. Stop on the way home, pick up some roses, a bottle of wine, dinner, back in bed with Jennifer...he suddenly stopped in surprise when he spotted the object of his plans standing at the front desk. Hurrying towards her, he heard her ask Randi, “Is Luka, I mean Dr. Kovac, busy right now?”

“I'm right here, Jenny, what's up?” he inquired, resisting the urge to pull her into his arms and kiss her. He already noted how everyone at the desk was trying not to look Interested. They were so obvious, though, that he almost laughed. “I did something stupid.” Jennifer told him, holding up her bandaged hand. Luka could see the blood soaking through the bandage. “Good God, what did you do?” he exclaimed. “Lets get you into a room!” He quickly helped her down the hall towards one of the treatment rooms. Chuny hurried out from behind the nurses' station, Dr. Kovac might need some help, and besides, someone had to observe this interesting turn of events!

As he seated her on the end of the exam table, Jennifer explained what had happened. Pulling up a Mayo stand, he laid her arm gently on the tray. “Purple?” He asked, looking at the bulky fuzzy purple bandage she had wrapped around her hand and arm. “What have you got against purple?” Jennifer laughed. Luka began to unwrap the bandage, and unwrap, and unwrap...”What in God's name is this thing?” He asked, looking at her. He reached for a scissors.

“Don't cut it - it's a leg wrap!” Jennifer insisted.

“Why would you wrap this around your leg?” He puzzled.

“Not my leg - a horse's leg!”

Mentally running through the list of potential germs, bacteria, not to mention plain old dirt he was sure had found a home on this item, he yelled, “And you couldn't find anything better than something that came off a dirty old horse?”

“It was clean - I washed it! And besides that my horses aren't dirty!” Jennifer yelled right back at him. By this time Luka had reached the end of the 'wrap' exposing the deep laceration across her hand. Looking at Chuny, who was observing this interaction with great interest, he directed, “I'll have to clean this well, and I'll need a suture tray.” As Chuny hurried off to get the requested items, Luka quietly explained to Jennifer what he would need to do. “Okay,” she replied, “just kiss me quick before that nurse returns!” Luka gladly obliged her. Wanting to get back a at him a little for the “dirty horse” remark, Jennifer reached out, mussing up his hair, laughing as she watched him quickly trying to smooth it back into place. “Careful darling,” he warned her, “you aren't too old to spank you know!” Unfortunately, this was the moment Chuny walked into the room, and the look on her face told him she had heard his last remark. Luka sighed, he had hoped to keep their relationship private for awhile, but he also knew the rumor mill. His remark would be all over the ER by the time he finished his suturing. “Chury,” he said, “I'd like you to meet Jennifer, my wife-to-be.” Jennifer was amused as she watched the looks that crossed the pretty nurse's face - shock, disbelief, a little regret, and then a big smile! “Congratulations!” She exclaimed. “Dr. Kovac - you should know better! Springing an announcement like that on me - you want to cause a cardiac arrest!” After the laughter subsided, Luka said, “Okay, back to business now. This cut needs to be taken care of.”

Jennifer had never seen this side of Luka. She had only known Luka, the man, now she was seeing Dr. Kovac, the physician. She watched as he quickly scrubbed his hands and snapped on the sterile gloves. “This part is going to hurt a bit,” he told her, “but the Xylocaine works quick, so it shouldn't be too bad for long.” As he injected the anesthetic, Jennifer thought “a bit” was definitely an understatement - it hurt like hell! He cleaned the deep laceration, then deftly and neatly placed the sutures.

“So serious!” Jennifer quipped, ala Rose from Titanic, sharing a giggle with Chuny, the two women laughing even harder at the look he gave them.

“When was your last tetanus shot?” Luka asked. She had no idea. “Okay Chuny,” we'll need a tetanus and you better get vitals for the chart.” We don't want Kerry stroking out because a chart isn't filled out completely, Luka thought to himself.

“Sure thing, Dr. Kovac.” She replied. “Open up,” she said, popping a thermometer in Jennifer's mouth.

“Finally, she has to keep her mouth shut.” Luka said smugly. Chuny quickly smothered a laugh - she couldn't believe this was the same Dr. Kovac she had worked with all this time! Finished with her charting, Chuny left to get the tetanus shot he had ordered. As Luka finished bandaging Jennifer's hand he wondered if the news had already reached the rest of the staff.

“You know we are going to be the center of attention, don't you?” he asked her. “Who cares!” she laughed. She was still laughing at him when Chuny returned. Taking the needle from her, Luka quickly pushed up Jennifer's sleeve, swabbed the area and gave her the injection. “Ouch!” she exclaimed. “Never laugh at a doctor holding a needle.” He advised her. “Thanks for the tip, I'll keep that in mind.” Jennifer replied dryly. Taking the stethoscope from around his neck, he checked her heart and lungs. “Lungs clear, heart regular, a little tachycardic.” He told Chuny who noted it in the chart, as she thought to herself - Not surprising, that man could definitely make my pulse rate rise!

After Chuny had left, Luka pulled Jennifer to him, kissing her thoroughly. “Well, my love,” he said, “let's get this over with.” He wasn't looking forward to facing the crowd he knew would be gathered at the nurses' station waiting for them. “It won't be that bad,” Jennifer said, “I'll protect you! You're not being thrown to the lions, you know.” She teased. “No,” Luka sighed, “the lions would be kinder.”

Luka kept an arm around her as they walked up the hall. He was right. They were suddenly surrounded by, he could swear, every single member of the ER staff. Jennifer quickly lost track of all the introductions he was trying to make. Mark was shaking his hand, slapping him on the back, the nurses were trying to hug him, they were hugging Jennifer, everyone trying to talk at once. Luka felt like he had stepped into an asylum. He had always been rather shy and reserved; he admired Jennifer's easy way with people, never at a loss for words. That girl had obviously kissed the Blarney Stone at least once or twice, Luka thought with a smile. Suddenly he heard a voice, “Okay, people. We have jobs to do. Let's get back to work.” For once he was glad to see Kerry Weaver.

As the crowd parted, Kerry walked up to Jennifer and Luka. “Congratulations.” She told them. “I am very happy for you both, and wish you only the best.” Looking at her, Luka could tell she was sincere. Maybe he had misjudged her. “Kerry, I'd like you to meet Jennifer MacLeod. Jenny, this is Kerry Weaver, Chief of the ER.” As Kerry shook hands with Jennifer, she liked what she saw in the young woman. She'll be good for him, Kerry thought, she had already started bringing him out of his shell. The staff was commenting on the “new Luka,” but Kerry suspected they were finally seeing the real Luka.

“Listen, Kerry, I can't let Jenny drive home with her hand like this,” Luka told her, “so I'm going to leave a bit early.” “Go on,” Kerry urged, “you weren't even supposed to be here today, I appreciate you coming in on your day off.” “No problem.” He assured her. “Nice meeting you, Dr. Weaver.” Jennifer said as they left. Kerry couldn't help feeling a little jealous as she watched the protective way Luka wrapped his arm around his fiance, her arm around his waist, the loving looks they had exchanged as they walked out the doors of the ER. Oh well, she thought, no use thinking about it. She had her work. She'd be happy with that.

Several months later, as he stood next to John Carter, Luka couldn't believe this day had finally arrived. It felt as if they had been planning this wedding forever. Now here he stood waiting for his bride. He shifted a bit, nervously fidgeting. “You know its not too late, you can still run.” Carter whispered to him. Luka shook his head and smiled. No, he thought, my days of running are over. Glancing around the small chapel, it looked as if the whole ER staff had shown up. He wondered who was left minding the shop. Heads turned at the slight commotion in back. Luka smiled, as he saw Carol Hathaway, no now Carol Ross, her new husband Doug, and the twins. She had been a friend when he needed one. The smile Carol gave him said more than words how happy she was for him and that she had found her own happiness.

Suddenly the music began to play. Looking down the aisle, Luka saw Jennifer's friend and bridesmaid walking towards him. Then Jennifer stood in the doorway, looking exquisite in her dress of Irish lace, ribbons and flowers threaded through her long red hair. Luka could see no one else as he watched her walking towards him. Then she was there at his side. Holding hands, they turned towards the priest. Surrounded by their love, and the warmth of friends, Jennifer and Luka made their vows to each other. Now they would continue their future together, husband and wife. They were no longer lost in the past. They had come home.


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