Title: 'Shooting The Past'
Author: Anna Rousseau <email@example.com>
Last Episode Seen: 'The Dance We Do'
Archive: Go ahead, please do.
Summary: What happened to Luka that made him react to a mugger in such a dramatic way.
Disclaimer: I don't own ER, I don't own the characters, I am a student, do not sue me. I'm too young to die. Also the title is of a Stephen Poliakoff play, so I'm not taking credit for that either. I own Zrinakov though, so I do take credit for him.
Notes: This is the first fic I have written in first person narrative (Kitty's 'Past Dances and Future Tears' and talking with her afterwards inspired this slant on Luka's life). Basically, I was wondering for a medical/scientific reason for Luka's grumpy-angry-generally-off-hand attitude in S7, and I came across Balkan War Syndrome in Time magazine. So here's the first fic I've written in over two months. It's different, it may not be medically/politically correct and I'm not sure if I got his family's names right, so please don't knock it straight away.
'SHOOTING THE PAST'
"Kovac!" Zrinakov yells over the whirring helicopter blades. I look up, eyes blinded by sharp reflections from the metal blades. He's waving a hand, mouthing at me.
I duck and nod, a sharp blast of dust hitting my face, coating every strand of my hair with the mixture of dust and explosives and the heaviness than blankets Zagreb with choking intensity.
It's dry and grey: the ground, the air, even my hair. Helicopters never fail to cover you with every last particle from the latest terrorist bombing. I glance to the left, to the soldier nursing a machine gun, a watchful eye trained to spot a Serb from a mile away.
The sound of chopped and sliced air grinds to a halt and Zrinakov joins me in getting the next multilated Croat soldier into our pitiful hospital. Half burnt out, every bed occupied. He's only a boy, this one. Marko in seventeen years time. I wince as my eyes meet his, arm bloody and severed by the explosion the dust has just settled from.
I look away, my stomach not baring to see the boy in agony. Wanting to shut out his ever audible crys.
Mother. Mother. God help me.
The street is quiet. A few children run with their mother back to shelter. I catch glimpse of the Serbs at the same time as the Croation National Guard do.
The bullets cascade over us as rifles open fire. I fall quickly to the floor a mouth full of dust greeting my face. A moan echoes above the cachophony, coming from a few metres away. My head turns, and my eyes meet the cold dead stare of Zrinakov. His head bloody and battered.
"Vladimir?" I whisper, my hand touching his face. "Zrinakov!"
His hair's as white as mine from the dusty ground.
I reach for a small jar, liberally covering every strand of my black hair. I don't want to be reminded of that day. Of Vladimir Zrinakov. Of Zagreb and Croatia.
My tie nearly strangles me, but it's barely noticable. I've been through worse. They're have been times when I wouldn't use a tie as so loosely around my neck. But I'm not thinking of that. New philosophy: don't think of things that upset you.
Especially no Croatia and Zrinakov.
She tuts impatiently, her foot tapping restlessly as I hunt for the keys.
"They were here, I'm sure," I'm reply looking up from the table at Abby.
She's the same height as Daniela. The same hair maybe. But Abby is not at all like Daniela in character. Daniela would laugh at my forgetfulness, ruffle my hair and joke about something. She was never angry, she had a sort of angelic patience which I loved about her. Abby's eyes are aflame, her body tense and her facial expression is that of profound and intense irritation.
"We're gonna be late," Abby mumbles angrily, as if it had escaped my mind over the last few seconds.
"Just a minute," I say over my shoulder. I bend down and kiss Marko on the head, then his mother. Daniel strokes my arm rhythmically, reassuringly as I give her a weak smile.
"How long will you be gone?" She asks, her hand on mine. Her eyes focused on our boy's unruly hair.
I look over at Zrinakov, who's rolling his eyes comically. He doesn't have a family, he doesn't know how important these good-byes are. He's just a doctor on an adventure, a rebel with a cause, a big kid. One day he'll know, I'm sure.
I think for the right answer, "I'll be back as soon as I can, I promise."
She gives me a wary look, remembering the last time I'd said I'd be back home soon, "Right, Luka." Her eyes are fixed on mine, concentrating, as if trying to figure out what my secrecy is for. What I'm hiding.
I can't tell her. It's the regulations. The placement in Zagreb would be my effort for the Croats. Our effort. Zrinakov's tugging at my sleeve.
"What's taking so long?" He questions, a hand reaching in front of me for the coffee jug. I step back, my concentration broken abruptly. Mark Greene is waiting for an answer.
I'm somewhere else. I'm always somewhere I shouldn't be. Back in Croatia with Daniela, Zrinakov, Marko, the dust and the blood and the guns. Exactly where I want to be and don't want to be simultaneously. My hand rubs my eyelids, forehead scrunching to clear my mind. It's getting harder to control. I've noticed it. It's a storm in my mind, one hundred images triggered by one action, sound or sensation. It's making me an insomniac, driving me to caffeine highs every hour.
Mark's still waiting, his myg poised near his lips. I start looking for a glass in the cupboard: "What, sorry,...huh?"
He's suppressing a smile, probably thinking I'm dreaming about Abby or something ridiculous like that. Mark doesn't know about my time with the CNG in Zagreb. "The pysch consult for the LOL in exam 1?"
"I'm not sure, they must be backed-up," I answer truthfully, suddenly exasperated. "Where are all the glasses?" My tone must have shocked Mark, his eyes are wide and he stops mid sip. "I need some water."
My hands are clenched in tight fists, I look down, noticing the nail marks as I unfurl my digits. They spontaneously drum rhythmically on the counter. "There's some plastic ones on the top shelf." Mark offers, watching my hands.
I shake my head, wanting to shout obscenities at any available victim.
"Never drink water from plastic, it spoils it. Water should be drunk from a glass," Zrinakov confides as we ride the army truck over the dry earth. I humour him with an affirmative grunt and put my water bottle away. I don't notice the difference really.
"What's the matter Kovac?" I look back at Zrinakov with a disinterested air. My thoughts are elsewhere, they're back with Daniela and Marko.
"I going to be a father again." I reply, Zrinakov smiles. When Daniela had told me last night I hadn't been. I love children, I just did't want to leave Daniela alone when I didn't know how long this placement in Zagreb would last.
"You're a machine, Kovac."
I roll my eyes, "From what I hear, they're aren't many girls in this town you haven't taken liberties with."
"You sound so damn medieval, Luka!" Zrinakov sighs, knowing he's going to get the lecture, "When am I going to do the decent thing and marry one, is what you're asking."
I didn't have to tell him that was what I thought. "You're not getting any younger Vlad. Don't you want a family?"
"Yes," he nodded, lighting up a cigarette. "I do know this is bad for my health, I'm quitting...just every slowly."
I must have been staring at Carter, because he's talking to me inbetween drags of nicotine and tar.
I find myself leaning against the wall outside the ER, in the ambulance bay, staring at the younger doctor who's sitting on a bench giving himself lung cancer.
"I thought you weren't supposed to smoke."
Carter rolls his eyes in an irritated manner, "I thought this was the land of the free. Obviously, I'm wrong."
"Croatia hasn't been free for years," I answer, pain coming in waves through my head.
Carter stares at me, confused, "What?
I look up, the slight breeze rushing against my face like the force of a gale. My head feels strangely heavy and unfamiliar, as if I weight has been placed there. Then my legs give way and I'm thrown on the floor, my jaw connecting with the tiled floor.
"Hey, Kovac..." Zrinakov helps me up. "I think ice-skating in the corridors is forbidden here. Try not to slip."
He's right. The nurses and doctors here look angry, wary and strict. The hospital smells of strong antiseptic with the occassional tangy metallic taste of blood.
I look at Zrinakov, "Why am I here?"
"You fell over," Carter replies, looking at an IV bag.
I blink my eyes and I'm lying down, on a gurney. It's a storm, the fog's getting thicker, it's starting to choke me. I'm loosing my way.