By Jo
Part 4 of the "Reunion" series

Luka arrived at County general right at 6 am. He usually liked to get there earlier, but Marija had needed him so much this morning. John Carter was at the admit desk, coat in hand, obviously waiting for him.

"Sorry I'm late," Luka told him. "I got hung up at home." He wanted to say why he was late, that his family was here now, but Carter was already headed for the door.

"No problem- it's all quiet right now." John called as he left, "I just need to get some sleep." And he was gone.

Luka shrugged, and checked the board- nothing there. So he went to the lounge to hang up his coat. He had meant to bring Nena's drawings, he could see them lying on the table, but the morning hadn't gone as planned and he'd forgotten them. Hopefully things would go much smoother at the hospital.

He went back to the admit desk to check the previous night's paperwork. It was always good to work after Carter's shift- John was sucking up to Kerry, angling to be Chief Resident, and he always made sure that everything was done before he left. So for now there was little to do but wait.

"What's that song?" Randi asked him. Luka looked up- he hadn't realized that he was humming.

"Oh- just an old song my grandmother taught me." He answered, smiling. Marija's favorite.

"You are much too cheerful for this time on a Monday." Randi growled at him. Dr. Dave looked up from a chart.

"Yeah, what's up with you, you get laid or something?" he asked.

The question surprised Luka so much that he found himself answering. "Get laid? Oh, you mean make love. As a matter of fact- quite a bit, actually." He smiled broadly at them, amused by the stunned looks on their faces. He knew they hadn't expected to hear such a thing from quiet old Dr.Kovac. Luka was about to explain when a man staggered through the doors, bleeding profusely from several spots.

"Get a gurney," Luka called. "We'll take him to trauma one. And call housekeeping." He helped Malik and Dr. Dave get the man on the gurney, then tried to figure out where all the blood was coming from. It turned out the man had been shot five times; it took Malucci and Luka a good part of the morning to patch him up. Then Luka had to talk to a police officer, filling a report on the shooting. So much for a quiet morning, Luka thought.

He had almost forgotten his conversation with Randi and Dr. Dave- it seemed like days ago. But the story had made the rounds of the ER. A cluster of nurses giggled when they saw him before scattering to do their separate duties; everywhere he was greeted by knowing smiles and nods or winks. It was getting out of hand, Luka knew- he even heard a few names tied to his, but he had no time to correct anyone. He felt like standing on the admit desk, yelling "It was my wife!", but he didn't dare.

Randi flagged him down at the desk. "You had a phone call, Dr. Kovac."

"Who was it?"

"She didn't say- she said she'd call back." Someone chuckled behind him. "She did have some kind of an accent, though." So Jelena had tried to call him. Luka wondered what was wrong; she would never have called him at work unless there was a problem.

"That was my wife," he started to tell Randi, but she had turned to answer the phone and didn't hear him. Luka got on the other line and tried to call home, but there was no answer. Jelena must have taken the girls out, that must have been why she tried to call, just to let him know. At least he hoped that was the reason...

Kerry Weaver came up to him. "Did you have a good weekend, Luka?" she asked innocently, eliciting a guffaw from Randi. Weaver looked at her, confused.

"Yes, actually I ..." Luka started, but he was interrupted by Dr. Romano.

"Kerry, I need to speak to you right now." Kerry shrugged at Luka- when your boss calls, you have to go, she seemed to say. Luka just shook his head.

Lucy Knight came up to him. "Dr. Kovac, I need you to sign off on some patients for me."

"Ok, let's see what you have," he sighed, and followed her to exam one. It wasn't much- a woman with severe otitis and a young man with possible strep throat- stuff a first-year student could probably diagnose. Luka signed of on the medicines and strep test.

"I bet you can't wait to graduate," he told Lucy. "Then you wouldn't need anyone checking this easy stuff."

"Yeah, well it does get tiresome sometimes" she agreed. "But I still can't believe I'm going to graduate in June."

"You do just fine, "Luka told her, "You just have to trust in yourself." He patted her shoulder and headed back out to the desk. Kerry was waiting for him. Uh-oh, he thought, here it comes.

"Luka, I was wondering if you could help me out. I know that you're scheduled to have off on Christmas, but..." He stopped her before she could finish.

"Absolutely not." he said flatly. "I'm working Christmas Eve already. I just can't work Christmas Day as well." and he turned away.

Kerry was surprised by his vehemence, but she kept trying. "But it wouldn't be until the evening- six o'clock." she said. Luka turned to face her.

"Kerry," he started- then he saw Jelena coming in with the girls. Her face was serious, and he became concerned about why they had come. He almost jumped across the desk in his hurry to get to them, leaving Kerry momentarily stunned. Then Marija spotted him.

"Papa!" she cried, "You really are here!" She ran to her father, and he scooped her up in his arms. He looked to Jelena, questioning with his eyes.

"I had to bring her," Jelena told him softly in Croatian, "She was so worried about where you were, I didn't know what else to do."

Luka suddenly realized that everyone was watching them- that's why Jelena had used Croatian, for privacy. He stood, not quite sure what to do. Kerry broke the spell.

"Now I know why you were in such a hurry Friday," she said, smiling.

"Kerry, everyone- this is my wife, Jelena, and our daughters Marija and Nena."

"And this is my Papa ," Marija said brightly in English "He's a doctor." Everyone laughed.

"I think they know that, sweetheart." Luka told her, kissing her check.

People were coming over to welcome them, but Kerry could see that they were uncomfortable with all the attention. Little Nena was hiding her face in her mother's coat, and it seemed that she might even cry.

"Ok, people," Kerry said, "Let's get back to work- I'm sure there's plenty to do." Luka looked at her gratefully. "Why don't you all take a break- we'll get you if we need you."

Luka took his family to the lounge. "I can only stay a little bit," he told them. He looked at Marija. "You understand?" She nodded.

"I was afraid that you had gone far away." she whispered.

"Now you know I am not far at all, ok?" Marija hugged him.

"I guess it's not so far," she told him. Luka hoped she would be alright now.

Dr. Dave opened the door. "Is it alright if I come in? I brought a little something for the girls." A peace offering, Luka thought, and waved him in.

"Jelena, this is Dr. Dave."

"The brash one?" she asked in Croatian,

"Yes." he answered in English. Jelena turned to Malucci.

"It's a pleasure."

"the pleasure's all mine," he answered. "Now I know why the big guy's so happy today." He and Luka exchanged looks. Dave pulled out a couple of toy stethoscopes. "They're not much, but it's all they've got around here." He handed on to Nena, then gave on to Luka for Marija.

Marija took it happily. "Look, Papa, now I can be a doctor just like you! Thank you, Dr. Dave!"

"Glad you like it", Malucci told her. He turned to Luka. "Sorry about this morning- I didn't mean anything by it."

It was nothing, "Luka replied. "It was my own fault, really." Jelena looked at them, curious. "Just some doctor fun." he told her, winking at Dave.

Kerry came in, and Dave left quickly. "Gotta get back to work," he said.

"Thanks again!" Marija called. Malucci waved and was gone. Kerry sat at the table with them. "I wish you had said something, " she told Luka. "I could get you some time off if you need it."

"No, no, we're ok," he told her. "We feel it's best to get to normal as quickly as possible, you know?" Kerry nodded.

"For now we are just thankful to be together," Jelena told her, squeezing Luka's arm.

"It's a nice Christmas gift." Kerry told them, smiling and sharing their joy. "We'll talk later," she told Luka. She left them to enjoy some time together.

"I'll be right out." he called after her. He turned to Jelena. He was glad that everyone knew now, glad they could see him complete, as husband, as father- his true self again. Now, at last, his life could go on. He hugged Jelena, watching the girls play, oh so very happy....


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