"Mending Fences"

Part  6 - Finale    by  Kat

“Come on Kerry,” Peter argued, “I just saw Kovac.  He doesn’t need restraints anymore.”  Kerry insisted, “He DOES need them Peter.  One more violent flashback and he could tear his sutures again.  Just yesterday you told me he wouldn’t survive another surgery if that happened.”  But Peter refused to give up.  After their talk, he felt he owed it to Kovac.  “Look, Kerry, that was yesterday.  I wouldn’t be here TODAY if I thought that was still a risk.  God knows I don’t want to see him in surgery again.  I don’t think the flashbacks are a problem anymore.  Kovac seems to have them under control now.  Besides, the restraints aren’t helping.  They’re just upsetting him.  Can’t you see that?” 

Kerry recalled how angry Luka had been when she refused to take off the restraints.  She was torn.  If she kept them on now, despite Peter’s opinion, she risked alienating Luka even further.  But if she removed the restraints and Luka tore his sutures again, it could very well kill him.  At that moment, Kerry regretted being ER Chief.  She wished she could leave this decision up to someone else, but she knew it rested on her shoulders alone.

Peter was quickly losing his patience.  He glared at Kerry and growled “Come on, Kerry…what’s it gonna be?”   Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Kerry said, “You win, Peter.  I hope we’re both right.”  She called the I.C.U. to have the restraint order removed from Luka’s chart.  Peter stopped glaring at Kerry and smiled.  “You made the right call on this one.  I’m sure of it.  I’ll look in on Kovac later.  I’ve gotta get to work now.”

Although she’d been reluctant to go along with Peter at first, Kerry had to admit that deep down, she was relieved.  With the restraints no longer an issue, maybe Luka would be willing to talk to her.  She’d misjudged the situation badly on her last visit.  Bringing DeRaad was a mistake, she knew that now.  Luka had felt ambushed… betrayed.  He was probably still furious at her.  She thought ‘I won’t get anywhere with Luka unless I can convince him that I didn’t betray his trust to DeRaad.’

Not one to put off a difficult task, Kerry headed upstairs to see Luka.  On the way, she stopped at the Admit Desk to tell Amira “I’ll be up in the I.C.U. if anyone needs me.”  Amira put her hand on Kerry’s arm and said “Please tell Dr. Kovac I was asking for him.  And tell him I don’t know how to thank him.”  Kerry replied gently, “I will Amira.”

As Kerry got off the elevator, the I.C.U. nurse greeted her with good news “Oh, Dr. Weaver, you’ll be happy to know that Dr. Kovac is doing much better today.  He really perked up after Dr. Benton’s visit this morning.  And I’m sure taking off the restraints helped too.  He’s been much calmer without them.”  Kerry was relieved “Glad to hear that, Mary.  Do you think he’s up for another visitor?”  The nurse answered “Well, he’s awake, that’s a start.”   “It certainly is Mary, it certainly is,” Kerry said as she headed toward Luka’s room.

Before opening the door, Kerry braced herself for a chilly reception. “Good morning, Luka. I heard you were feeling better and I wanted to see for myself.”  At first, Luka seemed startled to see Kerry, then a flash of anger crossed his face.  He suppressed the anger and greeted her politely, but his voice clearly lacked its usual warmth.  “Good morning, Kerry.  Yes, I am feeling better this morning.  Peter Benton visited for awhile and was kind enough to remove the restraints.”  Despite the cold tone in Luka’s voice, Kerry was relieved that he’d brought up the subject. 

“Yes, I know.  Peter came to see me as soon as he left here.  After a long discussion, he convinced me that the restraints weren’t necessary anymore.  So I called up here and told the nurse to remove the order from your chart.”

“I appreciate that Kerry…very much,” Luka said.  “But I am still very angry with you – you had no right to bring DeRaad here.  You told me our conversations were private.  I trusted you Kerry… I trusted you…” his voice trailed off.   But it was the coldness in Luka’s eyes that bothered Kerry more than his words.  She knew she had to reach him and make him understand that she hadn’t betrayed him.

Despite her discomfort at the whole situation, Kerry was grateful for Luka’s candor.  When he had a problem with someone, he didn’t brood or play passive-aggressive games.  He addressed the issue directly.  Still, she hesitated a moment before beginning, “Luka, I’m glad you brought that up.  First of all, I want to apologize for bringing Dr. DeRaad here without discussing it with you first.  But just as important, I want to assure you that I didn’t betray your confidence to him.  I never told him about any of our conversations.  All I told him was that your family was killed in the war and you’d had several flashbacks since the shooting.  Luka, I admit that I used poor judgment by bringing DeRaad here, but you have to believe me – I would NEVER divulge any conversation we had in private – NEVER!  When I give my word on something Luka, you CAN trust in that.”

Luka’s eyes softened and he met Kerry’s gaze as he said, “Then I owe you an apology for jumping to that conclusion.”  Kerry let out an audible sign of relief.  She’d gotten through to him!  Luka continued, “I’m sorry Kerry.  It’s just that when I saw DeRaad, all I could think of was the other psychologists I’ve talked to over the years.  The look in their eyes when I told them what happened to my family… how I felt… what I was thinking.  They never saw me as a person, I was just ‘another case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ or whatever diagnosis they attached to me.  Kerry, I always try to see my patients as people first, not just some disease or collection of symptoms.  If a psychologist can’t do the same for me there’s no point in seeing another one.”

“I understand, Luka.  Really I do.  But I wish you’d give DeRaad a chance – he’s one of the good guys.  He treats people, not symptoms.  But I won’t force him on you like that again, you have my word.”

Luka was exhausted and his incision was starting to hurt a great deal, but he wanted to finish clearing the air with Kerry before asking for a painkiller.  He didn’t want to fall asleep in the middle of this conversation.  “I appreciate that very much, Kerry.  For my part, no promises, but I will consider talking to DeRaad.” 

Kerry replied, “I can’t ask more than that.  I’m sorry those other psychologists didn’t treat you the way you treat your patients.  But then again, not all doctors are as caring towards their patients as you are.  That’s one of the reasons I hired you.  You’re a wonderful doctor Luka – capable and compassionate.  I’m hoping some of that will rub off on a few other people around here.  Malucci, in particular, comes to mind.  And Abby can learn a lot from you too.  As a matter of fact, they’ve both raved about how much they learn when they work with you.  So has Carter. And Lucy told me on several occasions that she appreciated how you took the time to teach her things, but always put the patient’s needs and comfort first.”  Kerry’s voice choked as she spoke of Lucy. 

Luka said softly, “Kerry, I know how hard Lucy’s death must have been for you.  It has affected me and I didn’t know her as well as you did.”

“Luka,” Kerry replied, “sometimes terrible things happen to people we care about.  When that happens, we have to find a way to go on.  But you know that better than anyone else here.  You’ve managed to go on for the past nine years.  But sometimes, you have to accept a little help when the going gets rough.  You don’t have to do it all alone.”

“I know that now, Kerry.  Peter helped me realize that.  He talked to me as one father to another… about what our families mean to us… about how our lives change when we lose someone we love.  No one has talked to me like that for a very long time.  I can’t explain it, but it made me feel less alone somehow.”

Kerry smiled. “Then I’m very grateful to Peter.” She hesitated a moment, then decided to bring up something that had bothered her since Luka’s first day in the I.C.U.  “Luka, after the shooting, you told me you planned to leave Chicago as soon as you were discharged.   I’d like you to reconsider your resignation.   I need you here.  And I think you need to be here too.  You certainly don’t need to go off someplace where you don’t know a soul.  That won’t make the emptiness go away.”  Luka nodded, but said nothing.  Kerry took that as a good sign – at least he hadn’t said no… yet. 

She continued, “There are people here who care about you, Luka.  You have NO idea – half of my time down in the ER is spent fielding questions from the staff about when they can come visit you.  Haleh, Abby, Carter, Malik, Lydia, Chuny, Amira, Randy,Yosh, Cleo, Malucci, Connie, Mark and Elizabeth – I can’t hold them off much longer.  They might just storm the I.C.U.”

That last remark actually made Luka smile.  Kerry was happy to see that.  As far as she was concerned, the man didn’t smile enough.  “Besides, I care about you and I’d like you to stay, Luka.  Even if you can’t say yes right now, please… just don’t say no.  Promise me you’ll think about it.”

“Kerry, I don’t need to think about it.  I… I’d like to stay,” Luka said softly.  Kerry let out another very audible sigh of relief, then said, “I’m so glad Luka.  You won’t regret it.” 

“I know that, Kerry.  And thank you - for asking me to stay, for wanting to help, for… for everything.  You’re right – it’s time to stop running from the memories and the emptiness.  It’s time to get on with my life.  I don’t think I could find a better place to do it than here in Chicago… here at County.  Maybe you could tell the staff that I wouldn’t mind a few visitors from the ER – as long as they don’t all come at one time…” Luka smiled again.  Kerry couldn’t help thinking how beautiful that smile was.  It lit up his face and made his eyes shine.  He looked much younger too.

“Thanks Luka.  That’ll make me pretty popular down there,” Kerry laughed.  “I think Amira will be your first visitor.  On my way up here just now she asked me to tell you how grateful she is for what you did for her.  But before your many admirers start arriving, how about a handshake to celebrate this new beginning?”

Luka’s answer surprised but delighted Kerry.  “I think I’d like a hug instead if that’s OK with you.”  Without a word, Kerry leaned down to Luka and tried to stretch her arms around him.  They both laughed, then he wrapped his long arms around her and they exchanged a heartfelt hug.  Kerry carefully positioned herself to make sure she didn’t press against Luka’s incision.

As Kerry stood up again, Luka said “Just one thing Kerry…”  She asked, “What’s that, Luka?”

“I think I’d like to rest a little right now,” Luka said, wincing as he tried to get comfortable in the bed.  Kerry noticed that behind his lovely smile, the young man was clearly exhausted – and probably due for a painkiller by now.  Right on cue, Mary, the I.C.U. nurse, entered with Luka’s meds.  “This’ll make you feel better, hon,” Mary soothed as she changed Luka’s I.V. and added Dilaudid before adjusting the drip.  “You get some rest and I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.”  Luka thanked her and closed his eyes, intending to rest them for just a moment.  But he drifted into a deep sleep almost immediately.

When the nurse left, Kerry sat next to Luka’s bed.   She wanted to make sure there were no flashbacks this time.  After half an hour, satisfied that he was sleeping peacefully, Kerry gently reached over and brushed a few stray hairs off Luka’s forehead.   Then she headed back down to the E.R., where the staff quickly surrounded her.  They cheered loudly when she announced that Luka would be able to have visitors later in the day.  Recalling how exhausted Luka had been, Kerry quickly added “Remember people, he’s had a rough couple of days and he’s still in the I.C.U., so you can’t all go in at the same time.  He still needs a lot of rest - please don’t wear him out!”

The End


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