Disclaimer: Don't own anything, "Let's stay together" by Al Green.
Spoiler: Season 10 Finale
Summary: Epilogue: The Golden Gates. Abby finally confesses her feelings to Luka, and later he gets closure.
A/N: Thank you for all your kind reviews and everyone who read this. It was my first attempt at ER fan fiction but I couldn't resist. Hopefully I'll continue on with this and it'll only get better.
Epilogue: The Golden Gates
"Oh my gosh, I'm so happy for you!" Lara announced to Abby over homemade Mac & Cheese that night. They were sitting opposite each other on the couch in Abby's spacious living room; eating dinner, while Lara indulged herself in a glass of wine Abby was content with peppermint tea.
Since that afternoon when Abby was discharged from the hospital, Lara had been her shadow. First they went grocery shopping but Lara didn't let Abby buy anything she didn't approve of, which meant cigarettes, caffeine and only peppermint tea. Instead she stocked her fridge with everything from instant soup to asparagus.
Abby decided she wouldn't need to go grocery shopping for another months, for heaven's sake she had enough food to feed an army in there. After they picked up Lara's dry cleaning, the next destination was Abby's home.
She felt like she hadn't been here for months, even though it was only one and a half days. In awe, she walked into all the rooms, making sure everything was in place before Lara ordered her to go lay down for a nap while she put away the groceries and started dinner. Abby claimed she wasn't hungry, but Lara didn't care.
One thing Abby knew about her friend was that whenever someone around her needed to be taken care of, she went into mother mode and to get her back was virtually impossible. Abby always suspected her friend was so attentive because she couldn't have children, and hated animals, which meant she was happy to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it, especially her best friend.
At around 7 Abby woke up to a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen, she walked into the living room as soon as Lara declared that dinner was ready, "The best Mac & cheese in town." The curly brunette announced and brought the two steaming hot plates into the living room.
Abby went back into her bedroom and retrieved a purple duvet for them to share while they ate. They ate in silence until about halfway when the phone rang and Abby picked it up, eager to know whom the caller was.
Suddenly she felt guilty for not checking up on Eric and decided first thing tomorrow morning she'd call the facility he was at.
For now she'd answer the phone, "Hello."
"Abby, it's me."
"Luka? Hi." Abby sounded surprised though she shouldn't have been; somewhere in the back of head the knowledge of a meeting later tonight still existed.
Lara's eyebrows rose and she put her plate down on the table, then scooted closer to Abby to listen in on the conversation. Abby didn't mind at all, how many times had she eavesdropped on Lara's conversations with boys when they were teenagers-too many to count.
"Don't sound so surprised, I told you I'd check up on. How are you feeling?" "Good, better than this morning, that sleeping pill made me feel disoriented." She explained, though she didn't really have to.
Luka remained silent for a second, and then added, "Would it be alright if I stopped by in a few minutes, I'm two blocks away from your house."
Abby wondered why he was asking permission, but didn't question it, "Sure, you're always welcome here." She reminded him and heard a soft chuckle on the other side.
"Okay I'll see you."
"Bye." Abby hung up with a giddy smile and that's when Lara announced she was very happy for her and then got up from the couch.
"I gather our girl time is over?" she asked, not at all minding the reason why.
Abby smiled softly, and hugged her friend, "I love you Lars, thanks for everything." The two embraced for a second longer and then proceeded to clear the table.
"No, don't help me, go beautify yourself for Dr. Kovac." Lara winked playfully and disappeared into the kitchen with their leftovers. Abby leaned against the couch and self-consciously ran a hand through her hair; maybe she really did need to scrub up.
"Oh god you're getting to me, I was actually considering going to brush my hair." Abby yelled into the kitchen, and took a sip of tea. Lara's infectious laugh flew into the room.
"Wouldn't kill ya." She teased, and Abby stood up, realizing she needed to use the bathroom anyway.
She walked across the living room and through the small hall into the first door on her left. She turned on the light and caught her expression in the huge mirror.
"God, I really do look like I've been through hell." She said to herself, and picked up a brush. Her simple house attire of a gray tank top and plaid green pants accentuated neither her figure nor her eyes, but it didn't matter, it's not like she was going on a date. Pulling her long brown hair into a high ponytail, Abby returned to living room in time to see that Lara had opened the door to Luka and they were comfortable chatting in the threshold.
Lara looked like she was ready to go, and Luka looked like he was ready to come in. The electricity that sparked when their eyes connected didn't go unnoticed by a perceptive Lara, who quickly walked over to Abby and kissed her on the cheek, "I'll be by before work tomorrow, I suggest you sit tight for the rest of the week. You're on paid leave baby."
With that Lara departed from the living room, but not before giving Luka a friendly pat on the back. His eyes remained transfixed on Abby, even when Lara told him good-bye; she rolled her eyes and went to the stairs. Luka closed the door behind him.
"Hi, sorry if I caught you at a bad time." He apologized quickly, but Abby shrugged his consideration off.
"Hey, don't worry about it, I'm pretty sure Lara has a husband at home who misses her." Abby joked and Luka joined in with a somewhat anxious laugh.
Perhaps he was just as nervous as she was if not more, after all the encounter they shared in her room that morning seemed all too familiar and yet at the same time scary.
Would history repeat itself? Would they hurt each other once again?
"Here goes nothing." Abby thought to herself as she invited her guest to sit besides her on the couch.
Heavy silence ensued for long minutes while Luka busied himself taking off his jacket; Abby sipped her tea methodically, no longer for the sake of savoring the taste but to fill in time. Who knew this overdue interaction between them would be so stiff, she needed to break the ice.
"So, I have no caffeine or nicotine in my system, entertain me Dr. Kovac." Abby said, casting a somewhat thin smile toward Luka.
"I don't think I can do that until you tell me what happened." He admitted in all seriousness so Abby's smile turned flat.
"Okay, I just thought- oh hell I was never good at small talk was I?" She asked, tilting her head in mock disappointment. That remark seemed to break the ice, ironically.
"Not a whole lot, no."
Luka said suddenly very comfortable in Abby's presence. She looked so refreshing and warm, sitting on the opposite side of the couch, her body half hidden by the purple duvet and her feet neatly tucked under his thigh. A reminiscing thought shot through his head.
This was a major déjà vu, he wondered how many night in total they'd spent sitting like this on the couch, either talking, kissing, or watching TV. The memories became too much for Luka, and yet he couldn't make them go away. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, he thought, but then realized it was now or never; he couldn't keep running away. He couldn't step into Sam's shoes and cause Abby the same amount of pain Sam caused him he just refused.
"Anyway, hmm, I think that this whole thing started when I passed my boards. It felt so strange to finally achieve something and have it turn out exactly how you pictured. Grueling hours and bad coffee aside, my life revolves around my job because I love it so much, ya know? And I just kept thinking, what was missing from my life? I couldn't quiet put my finger on it.
Yes I was hurt when John broke up with me, through a letter nonetheless, but somehow afterwards I felt liberated. My break up with him didn't hurt me as much as it freed me and allowed me to think deeper into my unhappiness, and somewhere along the way I realized that I was unhappy because you and I-…"
Abby paused to make sure Luka was still with her, and he was listening courteously, his eyes watching her with comfort and interest. She smiled in spite herself.
" Well, we weren't friends Luka, we barely spoke to each other, and before you left for Congo I realized what we've been missing. You almost died for god's sake and we could've lost each other just as easily even before Africa. I don't understand how we could've been so stupid. I miss our friendship Luka, and when it's not the only reason I've been stressed out lately, I want that to change."
She paused, very happy to get through half the well-planned speech that had been circling inside her head since she woke up.
"You want to be friends with me?" Luka asked, sounding a little bit disappointed but Abby quickly jumped in to clear up the misconception.
She scooted closer to him and said, "Maybe more than friends."
Her suggestive tone made Luka nearly break out in goose bumps. It was true they hadn't shared a deep, genuine conversation since they'd broken up, and it'd been too long for them to stay apart.
"I'd like that." He whispered but Abby was close enough to hear him, and he was close enough to see the radiance of her smile.
"You have no idea how that makes me feel." She smiled even brighter; her eyes sparkling with unshed tears of joy. It had finally happened, and just like when she passed the boards this feeling was all that she anticipated it would be and more.
"Luka promise me next time I do something stupid like break up with you, hit me on the head with something big okay?" she asked, scooting even closer, until she was almost sitting in Luka's lap. She'd dragged the duvet with her to keep them both warm.
"I could never hit you." Luka whispered, suddenly very infatuated with the amount of body heat she was generating and how perfectly she fit into his arms, her head nestled in the crook of his shoulder, that's where she would remain.
"Okay then how about a loving pat?" Abby compromised, and Luka laughed.
When he did, Abby could hear his heartbeat quicken, as did hers.
"Sure thing" He agreed lovingly, running his fingers through her hair, deep in thought.
"What are you thinking?" Abby asked, while studying the patterns on his tie.
"Nothing in particular, just how content I am right now." He whispered, and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. "Luka do me a favor." She asked carefully as she looked up.
"Anything." Luka said with great conviction.
"Stay with me until I fall asleep." Abby said and leaned into him even more.
"Always." Luka whispered, and then picked her up and carried her to the bedroom…
Luka got home a couple hours later. Though initially both thought he'd be spending the night, he refused to escalate things. They'd agreed to start over fresh, forget about their history and the break up, but not forget the mistakes they made so they could learn from them. Why implicate an already delicate relationship with sex, they'd have the rest of their lives to do that.
He was functioning solely on adrenaline and the fire that was suddenly ignited within him. Since he stepped out of Abby's apartment he didn't feel a smidgen of cold, even though it was raining. He debated on whether to vegetate in the living room watching infomercials or try to go to sleep.
He decided on the former, and sat down on the couch, but just as he reached for the remote something else caught his eye. That postcard. He'd neglected it for three days, at first unable to read it, and then with so much happening around him he simply forgot about it. Now seemed like the perfect time as ever to read it, since he was still on his brave streak.
His life differed so much from a week ago, and the only reason why was because Abby had come to her senses and in the process made him come to his senses as well, he finally had what he was missing in his life, picking up the post card he began to read:
Hey, I just want to tell you that Alex and I, we're okay. We settled down in San Francisco, do me a favor and burn this card after you read it, just in case Steve comes looking for us. Then you can truly say you don't know where we are. It's better this way, I'm terribly sorry you got caught in the battlefield that is my life; I never meant to hurt you. Whatever we had between us is as good as over, but I'll never forget you. You changed me in so many ways; you opened me up to new experiences, and new love. You were the first honest father figure in Alex's life and that means more to him than you can ever begin to imagine. He understands why we had to leave; I hope I'm strong enough not to have Steve invade my life once again, for Alex's sake. I'm sorry again and I just need to let you know that you need to move on. Give your love to someone who deserves it. I know she'll be the luckiest girl in the world. Love, Sam
After he finished reading, Luka had a sense of nostalgia replace his new found courage, but the last sentence still remained in his mind for a long time after that. Sam was giving him her blessing to move on and that meant so much to him. She would never know. He wouldn't destroy the only evidence of her existence, and if Steve were smart he wouldn't show up at his doorstep because then Luka wouldn't be responsible for his actions.
Turning off the TV, Luka decided on some shuteye and walked into his bedroom. Before he retired to bed, he walked over to his bureau and opened the sock drawer; he hid the post card there next to a picture of Abby…
Let's, let's stay together
Lovin' you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad…
Lovin' you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad…