Dave whistled to himself as he pushed open the doors to the ER. Man, that had been one weird day, he thought as he walked through the ambulance bay. First Carter got kicked across the room by a patient, and then he got hauled over the coals by the Chief. Or at least that was what Dave assumed had happened. He had asked Carter what had gone on in the meeting in the lounge with Greene and Kerry, but Carter had told him to mind his own dammed business. What puzzled Dave was why Abby had been in on it. Oh well, he could ask Carter about it tomorrow.
Reaching the bicycle rack, he was about to unlock his bike, when he realized that the back tire was flat. Cursing under his breath, he considered his options. He could bring the bike inside and repair the tire now, but that would take time, and he really wanted to go home. Or he could walk home with the bike and fix it then. But home was several miles away and Dave really didn't want to walk the distance so late at night. Hmm, there was one other alternative, he thought to himself.
Several minutes later, Dave was hurrying up the steps to the El platform. He was the subject of many curious looks, because he was clutching the back wheel of his bike, having decided that taking the whole machine on the El with him would be a very bad idea. This way he could mend the tire at home and be able to use his bike again tomorrow.
Pushing his way through the crowd of people that had obviously just disembarked, he struggled onto the platform. He cursed under his breath, as he saw the train move out of the station. This was not his day. He had already missed out on the chance to go to the scene of the shooting. Man that would have been cool. Of course it would have also meant traveling in the chopper, which wouldn't have been so cool. Last time he had been in the chopper had been an eventful journey for all concerned and Dave had emerged looking even paler than the patient.
Still at least today he had managed to pick up an interesting souvenir. He quickly patted his pocket, to make sure that the screw was still there. It was going to be a cool addition to his 'weird stuff that I extracted from patients' collection. So far, the pride of his collection was a lobster claw that he had removed from a tourist in Grenada. It had been the first and the last time that the guy had tried 'skinny dipping'. Dave grinned at the memory. The grin faded as he realized that he wasn't alone on the platform.
Luka was standing on the platform staring at the tracks. He had been there for ages, trying to summon up the energy to return home. Several trains had come and gone while he had been reflecting on the day's events, but it had seemed like too much of an effort to get on any of them. Now it was starting to get cold. With an effort he pushed himself up off the bench and moved to the edge of the platform to wait for the next train.
Dave watched as Luka stood at the edge of the platform. Oh shit, he thought to himself. He had overheard Chuny and some of the other nurses talking about the patient who had refused to let Luka save her unborn child. He had also heard them mention that Luka's two kids had died in Croatia. It didn't take a Psych qualification to know that the guy had got to be hurting. The question on Dave's mind, as he saw the somber expression on Luka's face, was whether he was hurting enough to do something crazy.
Luka was trying to remember if he had any alcohol in his house. Not that he was prone to crawling into a bottle to ease his problems, at least not anymore. But today, he needed a drink. His thoughts were interrupted by a cheerful "Yo, Dr Kovac," and the sudden appearance of Dave in his line of vision.
Dave carefully positioned himself between Luka and the edge of the platform, as he heard the sound of an approaching train.
"Dr Malucci," said Luka, in a monotone.
"You okay Dr Kovac," asked Dave. "You look a bit distracted."
"I am just a little tired," said Luka brusquely. "It has been a long day, but it will soon be over." Hearing the approaching train, he took a quick step forward to see if it was his train or not.
"Don't do it Luka," yelled Dave. Dropping his bicycle wheel, he flung his arms around Luka and pushed him away from the edge of the platform. The two men ended up in a tangle on the platform floor. Dave sat on top of Luka holding him down until the train had passed through the station.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, Malucci?" snapped Luka. "Get off me."
"I'm saving your life, that's what," said Dave. "Whatever's happened it's not worth killing yourself over." Letting go of Luka, he stood up, holding out his hand to him.
"Killing myself?" asked Luka, looking up at him. "What do you mean 'killing myself'?"
"Well, you looked as if you were about to jump," said Dave. It was slowly occurring to him that maybe Luka hadn't been about to jump in front of the train. "I mean I heard what happened today, and I saw you, and......damm. Guess I was wrong. I'm sorry Luka."
Luka sighed. "It is I who should apologize, Dave. You meant well, and if I had been planning on jumping, you would most certainly have prevented me." Taking Dave's outstretched hand, he stood up with a grunt.
"You okay?" asked Dave, concerned.
"Just a little bruised. Do me a favor, Dave. The next time you wish to prevent me from doing something, why not try asking first. It would be a lot less painful."
"Yeah, that might be a good idea." Dave retrieved his bicycle wheel and the two men stood in silence, waiting for the next train.
"Listen, d'you want to get a drink or something?" asked Dave suddenly. He knew that Luka wasn't going to jump or anything, but the guy still looked like he could use some company.
"I don't think I am in the mood to go to a bar," replied Luka. "Too many people around."
"Well, I've got a couple of six-packs back at my place. It's only a few stops away."
Luka considered the offer. A choice between going back alone to his gloomy apartment, or spending a few hours drinking in the company of Dave Malucci. Well, while Dave may have many faults, being boring was not one of them. "Okay," he said, hoping that he wouldn't regret his decision. "Lead on."
Several hours later, Dave and Luka were back at Dave's apartment, surrounded by a pile of empty beer cans.
Dave was half regretting his decision to bring Luka back for drinks. Between them they had drunk most of his beer supply for the next month, and Luka was showing no signs of stopping. True it had been an interesting evening, and he would never have believed that Luka had such a collection of dirty jokes, but it was getting late and he was feeling tired.
Luka stood up unsteadily, "I think I need to use your bathroom," he said bluntly.
"Down the hall, on your right," said Dave. He watched as Luka walked unsteadily down the hall, and cursed under his breath. There was no way that Luka was sober enough to get home on his own. Oh well, he thought to himself, I'm sure he'll fit on the couch. Dave started gathering up the empty cans. He had the room almost tidied again when he realized that Luka hadn't returned.
Puzzled, he went down the hall and knocked hesitantly on the bathroom door. "Luka? You okay in there man?" There was no reply, so he opened the door to reveal an empty room. Okay, this was weird, thought Dave.
There was only one other room in the apartment. Dave slowly pushed open his bedroom door. He could hear the snores coming from the room. Switching on the light, he cursed under his breath, as he saw Luka's unconscious form sprawled over the optimistically purchased double bed. Well, at least he wouldn't have to persuade Luka not to walk the streets while he was drunk.
Luka woke up the next morning with the feeling that something had crawled down his throat and died. He groaned slightly and opened his eyes. Strange, he thought to himself. I don't remember my bedroom being that color before. He sat upright in the bed as he realized that he didn't recognize the room. The sudden movement was a mistake, so he closed his eyes again and waited for the room to stop moving. Hearing the sound of a shower, he opened his eyes again.
This wasn't the first time he had woken up in unfamiliar surroundings with his head spinning. After his family had been killed, Luka had spent a lot of time crawling down the neck of a bottle trying to blot out unwelcome memories.
The noise of the shower stopped. Luka rolled over to face the door, wondering who had been kind enough to bring him home on this occasion. His jaw dropped as Dave walked in, wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist.