by Poet

At 7:00 Luka was preparing to run the board for Kerry so that he could take
off. He was starting to have second thoughts about going to visit Viktor
and his family.

Kerry noticed his distraction and asked, "Got any plans for tonight?"

"I don't know yet," Luka replied as he pulled his attention back to the
board. He brought her up to date and then headed for the lounge.

Amira, who had been standing nearby, spoke up. "I heard from Chuny that Dr.
Kovac ran into an old friend today. I think he's going to visit him."

"Really? Luka needs someone one to know outside of working here," Kerry

Leaving the ER, Luka headed for his car. He planned to drive directly to
Viktor's home. He'd stay for awhile but if the visit got to be too much to
handle, he could always leave.

It didn't take him long to locate the modest two story house in the quiet
residential neighborhoor. Pulling into the driveway, he parked his car, got
out and headed for the porch.

Viktor heard the car stop in the driveway and peeked out the curtains.
"He's here!" he exclaimed, sounding like a kid getting ready for a special

Luka stood on the porch, staring at the door and seriously considering just
walking out of their lives. Viktor had seemed so happy and that just made
the pain of HIS loss all the more sharper. It would just be so easy to go
on back to his car and go home.

Inside the house, Viktor and Rozalija were waiting for their friend to make
up his mind. Viktor paced the floor and said, "Maybe it was a mistake to
invite Luka here. Seeing him today brought back a lot of memories--for both
of us."

Roza placed a hand on her husband's shoulder and said, "Oh, Viktor, don't
worry. Luka will make the decision he needs to. And if he doesn't come
here--we can go see him at his hospital."

His mind made up, Luka reached out a hand to ring the doorbell. He would at
least visit tonight. And if the emotional pain was too great--then he just
wouldn't stop by anymore. Surely they would understand.

The door opened almost immediately and Viktor reached out a hand to pull
Luka inside, saying "COme in, come in!"

Roza gave her friend a quick kiss on the cheek and hugged him, saying, "It's
so good to see you again, Luka."

Luka took her hand and kissed it, giving her a slight bow. "Ah, Rozalija,
you are more beautiful than ever," he said gallantly.

Roza withdrew her hand and said laughingly, "And you still have a way with
words, Luka Kovac. We eat in ten minutes. Viktor will show you where to
wash up." She headed for the kitchen.

Viktor poured a glass of sweet wine and handed it to Luka. "Tonight we
celebrate, my friend. Enjoy!"

"Where are the children?" Luka asked as he took a sip of wine. "Just like
what we used to enjoy in Zagreb."

"Little Viktor and Zelika are visiting friends. They will be home at 9:00.
The twins are upstairs playing. And as for the latest addition--you can see
that he's still inside Roza," Viktor replied.

Suddenly two dark haired little children came running down the stairs. They
slid to a stop in front of Luka and the girl said, "Prepare for trouble--"

"And make it double--" her brother chimed in.

Viktor laughed and said, "Okay, Double Trouble, back to your games." He
glanced over at Luka and shrugged. "Pokemon--their favorite cartoon."

Jasaminka looked up at Luka and announced, "You're tall."

"So I am, Little One," he replied, giving her a smile.

"Luka, meet the twins--Jasaminka and Nikola. Children, this is Luka Kovac.
He's an old friend of mine from long ago." Viktor made introductions.

"Hello," Jasaminka said shyly while Nikola just silently stared up at their
visitor. After a moment they ran back upstairs.

"Come on. You can wash up in the kitchen," Viktor said as he carried his
wine to the dining room table.

Roza had set a plate of homemade rolls on the table and was carrying in a
roast. Catching sight of Luka, she said, "I hope you like this--it's the
best I could do on such short notice."

"I'm certain that I will like whatever you have cooked," he replied and
followed Viktor to the sink. After scrubbing his hands, he headed for the
dining room.

"Roza's cooking will put meat on your bones in no time," Viktor told his

Luka stared in dismay at the amount of food already piled on his plate.
"I-I can't eat all this," he stammered.

"Go ahead--we have plenty more," Viktor told him.

"I don't eat a lot anymore. I think I'm too used to hospital food," Luka
said to explain his no longer hearty appitite.

"So eat what you can and take the rest home for later," Viktor said and
passed his friend a buttered roll.
Roza joined them at the table and commented, "You aren't eating very much,

"It's not your food, Roza. I'm just not for eating a lot. I think that I'm
too used to hospital food," Luka assured her and took a bite of roll.

"I understand. Just eat what you can and take the rest home," she told him.

Luka nodded. He managed to eat the roll and about half the food on his
plate before he had to stop. He knew from experience that if he forced
anymore food down, he'd just end up getting sick.

"You must have at least a small bite of desert," Roza said as she brought
him a piece of rich chocolate cake. "I baked it yesterday for the

Luka took one look at the cake and visibly paled. "I'm sorry, Roza, but I
don't think I can eat it. I just can't seem to tolerate chocolate anymore,"
he said and hastily pushed back his chair.

"It's okay. I'll just put the cake up and fix you something different next
time," Roza said as she quickly removed the cake.

Viktor laid a hand on his friend's shoulder and asked, "Are you all right,

"I'm fine, Viktor. I just can't eat certain foods anymore," Luka answered.
He picked up his glass of wine and went back to the living room.

"Roza will make sure that you have plenty to take home," Viktor said as he
followed Luka.

Luka sat down on the couch and leaned back, closing his eyes. "I might as
well tell you, Viktor, that I almost didn't come here tonight. Seeing how
happy you and Roza are just makes me miss my Mirjana and the children all
the more," he said softly.

"Roza and I saw you on the porch and I wondered if I'd made the right
decision to invite you here. But I was so happy that I'd finally found
you," Viktor told him.

"It was a surprise to find you in that exam room today," Luka admitted and
took a sip of wine.

"Tell me, Luka, are you glad that you came here tonight?" Viktor asked.

"I honestly think that I am. The food was excellant and Roza is such a good
cook. I think I'm almost tempted to come back again."

"Do you think you will?" Viktor asked.

"Maybe--it all depends on the hours that I work," Luka replied.

"You know, Luka, you are welcome here anytime," Rozalija said as she joined
the two men.

"Thank you, Roza," Luka said. He smiled and hesitantly reached out a hand.

She smiled back and said, "Go ahead, Luka, you can feel the baby. Sometimes
I think he's going to kick his way to freedom. And him so tiny yet."

"Viktor said that you're due in October," Luka commented as he carefully
placed a hand on her stomach. He could definately feel the baby kicking
about. "Do you know yet if it's a boy or a girl?"

"Not yet. I go in for an ultrasound tomorrow. He/she will be born around
Halloween. So far all my checkups have been normal. I'm gaining the proper
amount of weight. And I've not really been bothered by morning sickness
which is a relief since I did the other times."

"I think that Mirjana's first pregnancy was harder on me than on her. I was
trying to take classes and work. She seemed to have no problems at all but
I ended up with sick headaches," Luka said reminiscingly.

"I remember that you were trying to study for final exams and ended up in
the hospital right after Jasna was born. Roza and I did a lot of
babysitting so she could visit you," Viktor reminded him.

"Luka, sometime we'll have to get the photo albums out of the closet so you
can see how you used to look," Roza said suddenly.

"Photos? You have photos?" Luka asked.

"Of course. Don't you?" Roza replied.

"No. I-I lost just about everything when the shell hit the building. All I
have is a photo of Jasna and Mirjana," Luka said softly.

"I'm so sorry, Luka. I should have remembered," Roza said with tears in her

He saw the tears and reached to brush away the one that fell on her cheek.
"It's okay, Roza. Just knowing that you have the photos gives me reason to
come back again," he said softly.

Viktor suddenly asked, "Luka, would you like some more wine?"

Luka shook his head and replied, "No, thank you. I really need to get home
and get some sleep. I had a wonderful time. Thank you both."

"I'll get the leftovers," Roza said as she got to her feet and headed for
the kitchen.

Luka finished his wine and said, "I'll meet the children some other time."

Roza returned with a tupperware container which she put into his hands.
"I'm giving you enough for two meals," she said.

"Thank you," Luka said. He shook Viktor's hand and kised Roza on the cheek.
"Until next time." He let himself out the door.

"Until next time, Luka," Viktor said quietly as he watched his friend leave.

As soon as Luka got home, he put the food in the refridgerator and got out
the kitten food.

Katica was rubbing against his ankles and meowing loudly and insistantly.
*Where the heck have you been? I'm soo hungry. I could have starved to
death! I thought you loved me.*

"Quit complaining, okay," Luka said with a laugh as he put down fresh food
and water.

Katica gobbled down her food, looked up and meowed. *So where were you?*

"Now what are you saying?" Luka wondered. "I stopped to visit friends." He
picked up the kitten and held her close.

*I won't like it if you spend all your time with them.* Katica meowed. She
began licking his ear.

The next morning at County, Kerry noticed Luka's cheerful expression and
commented, "I'd say you enjoyed your visit with your friend."

Luka pulled on his labcoat and replied, "It was a good visit, Kerry. I
think I needed the chance to talk about my family with people who knew them,
knew exactly what I'd lost."

"Well, talking is a good way to help. And I honestly think it will help you
a lot," Kerry said. "So you'll visit again?"

"Yeah. I think so. I just have to check my schedule," Luka replied. "As
soon as you run the board for me, the sooner you can go home and get some
sleep." He followed Kerry out of the lounge.

to be continued

to part 3

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