Status: Very unfinished due to plot difficulties :-)
“Go home, Luka!”
He shook his head, looking up from the stack of charts beside the computer. In answer to Dr.Weaver's rather blunt command, “I'm fine, Kerry.” He really only had a few hours left. His accent was thick, voice sounded forcibly strong.
“We can't use you if you're going to get the already sick patients sicker.” She walked by, taking a few charts with her, limping but moving quite fast. She was the most efficient, logical woman he'd ever worked under.
“I'm fine,” he insisted, giving her a smile, lifting both hands into the air with a shrugging 'what you see is what you get' sort of gesture. She passed, and he relaxed, rubbing the back of his neck. He wasn't about to take anything for this cold in case he needed to be on his game. It was past the usual time when people were brought in for critical emergencies, but a night in the ER was never typical.
He clamped a hand over nose and mouth, turning a bit, away from where Kerry had gone. “ehh-Choo! Ahh-Chishoo!”
Behind the desk, Jerry held up a box of tissues. “Here,” he offered with a smile. “Fine?” He raised his eyebrows playfully at the new doctor.
“Thank you.” Luka nodded, taking two tissues and rubbing at his nose. “Close to fine.” He shrugged, tossing the tissues in the trashcan. “I've only got a few more hours.”
Consulting the chart, he headed to exam room two and gave a young girl and her mother a nice smile. “Hello, I'm Dr.Kovac. And I just need to wash my hands a moment, excuse me.” Quickly he washed his hands at the sink and pulled on plastic gloves. He settled on the stool in front of the low table where the girl sat, clutching her arm. “Hello, Sweetie. What's your name?”
“Alice,” she said, looking a bit scared, hesitant. She shrank against her mother.
He smiled, “Beautiful name. What seems to be the problem?” He sniffed wetly and cleared his throat.
“My arm hurts,” the little girl complained, biting her lip.
Her mother explained. “She was trying to do a pull-up on the shower curtain rod and it gave way. I think she broke it.”
Luka nodded, examining the way the arm was awkwardly bent. The girl had a scrape on her shoulder as well which had apparently been a result of falling against the faucet. He also found a small bump on her head where the bar had hit her on its way down. Her mother had put ice on it and wrapped a bandage around her shoulder to stay the gentle flow of blood.
“I'll need an X-Ray to be sure, but it looks like it's broken. And your shoulder will need stitching. But otherwise you seem just fine. Though I'm afraid you won't be qualifying for the Olympic gymnast team tonight.”
She flashed him a half toothless smile. “I'm much better on the parallel bars at school anyway.”
He scribbled in her chart. “I'll get someone to take you over for an X-Ray then meet you back here, all right?” He took the gloves off, rubbing at his nose. Any moment now, he would sneeze and he didn't want it to be in front of the patients if he could help it. Quickly he ducked from the room, brought a cupped hand up and “ahh-Choo AhkTchoo! ahh-Cheoo!”
“Bless you,” called Carol as she walked by, smiling.
Spotting her, Luka jumped and caught up with her, walking quickly behind. “Thanks. Look Carol, who do I need to talk to in order to send my patient up to radiology?”
She slowed walking, and took the top chart from him. “I'll call Malik for you.” She glanced at the chart. “Broken leg and cut, they're really starting you off slowly aren't they?” She laughed, then looked up at him. “Luka, you look exhausted.” Apparently, slow did not necessarily mean easy.
He nodded. “Sixteen hour shift. I'm done in less than two hours, though.” Then he added. “Thanks so much,” and he pointed towards the chart.
She smiled and rounded the corner as he continued on and over to curtain one. He managed to wade through one rather drunk and freezing homeless man, one case of late night food poisoning in a couple, and a man with a minor dog bite from his own nonrabid but angry dog which he'd brought along just to be on the safe side. It knocked over a lamp and a tray of instruments before a security guard came in and got it under control.
But now, he was growing very tired indeed. His cold, which made him feel much less fine than he insisted he was, was growing worse. Several times he had to duck behind curtains or walk to the other side of an exam room to sneeze as discretely as possible. Though most times he sneezed in pairs or triples and hiding the sneezes along with the fact that he looked pale and tired was becoming rather impossible.
His mind began to drift as he sat down in the doctor's lounge with a box of tissues at his side and paperwork in his lap. He thought first of a warm bed and hot tea with fresh lemon. Then he thought of his wife, his children. While it hurt him to remember them, the memories did make him smile a bit as well. Their happy, glowing faces. The way his wife used to snuggle under the covers and rub cream on his stomach when he had a cold. The way she nursed him back to health and teased him about how she thought doctors never got sick. His little girl would help make soup and his little boy would draw him a get well card. And his wife would sit by his side, taking his temperature every hour and getting him as much tea as he needed. But they were gone now. And he was here, in another country, in another life, alone. He found he remembered them most vividly in times when he felt hurt, times when he needed them most.
He shivered and rubbed another tissue at his nose. It was tickling again with a sneeze that didn't seem to want to come out at all. “ehhh…uh…” His eyes closed instinctively, mouth dropping open, tissue raised to his nose. But the sneeze didn't come. Pulling his eyes open, he threw his head back, dark hair tossed roughly back as well. His eyes fell upon the room light above him, and instantly the sneezey feeling came upon him in full force. “ehhh-Choo! Ahh-Tchoo! ahh-Tchoo!” He blew his nose, coughed to clear his throat, and returned to his paperwork just as Carol came in.
“Hi Luka,” she said, going over to her locker to get an apple out. “How's it going?”
He shrugged, giving her a weak smile and trying to push the small pile of tissues to the side so she could not see them. “All right,” he told her. “Just doing some paperwork so I can leave when my shift is over.”
She nodded, taking a bite of the apple, then offering it to him. Politely, of course, he refused. “I'll make sure someone comes to tell you when your patient gets back from Radiology.”
Luka looked up at her with a look of extreme thankfulness. “That would be wonderful. Thank you Carol.” He rubbed at his nose with a tissue as it began to tickle again, but in the same sort of reluctant way as before it did not come out. She smiled, nodded, and left the room with another bite of apple. Luka sat back against the couch with a deep sigh. He gazed up at the light once more. “ehh-Keh-shoo! Ahh-Shoo!” Then finished up the paperwork as quickly as possible. It went quickly as the cases were so straight forward, and soon he lay down on the couch, a bit curled so he'd fit on the two short seats. In just a few minutes, he had fallen asleep, face pressed into the back of the couch.
“Luka?” He woke to a hand shaking his shoulder, and rolled out of sleep, nearly falling off the tiny couch. Luka looked up with blurry vision to see Carol, again, squatting beside the couch with the same soft, sympathetic smile. “Your patient's back. Exam room one.”
He nodded, giving a cough and stretch as he stood. He readjusted his white coat on his shoulders, then paused, nose bothering him again. This time it didn't take looking at the light for him to sneeze. “ehhh-KAH-Shooo! Ehh-Kushoo! Ahh-KTchooo!”