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"That's it, Dr. Carter." Scott Welles had been Kitten's interim
paediatrician since she was found nearly a year ago. The pleasant
young doctor's manners had resulted in a more permanent association
with the family. "See you later, little one." Dr. Welles returned to
his computer. He was in the midst of reading a spectacular story
about a female trauma physician sharing a hotel room with another
woman from her staff.

It was almost Christmas. Colored lights decorated the admit desk.
Santa Claus hats bedecked the heads of some staff members. John
Carter came around the corner from the staff lounge, Kitten riding in
a carry pack on his chest. "Hey, Jerry! Do me a favor and distribute
the rest of these." He handed over some small pink envelopes
decorated with golden stars.

"Sure thing, Dr. K-C. Do you need any help with the party?"

Remembering the last time Jerry helped organize the ER staff holiday
blow-out, John shook his head grinning. Kitten did her best to catch
the pom-pom on her father's seasonal head-gear.

"Is your other half back yet?" Jerry wiggled his fingers at Katerina.

"Nope, he's still in Indianapolis at that trauma conference with Dr.
Weaver. If you deliver the remaining invitations, that should do it.
Everything else has been taken care of." John put on his gloves and
headed for his car.

It was a new one. The old Jeep was a two-seater so they'd sold it to
a co-worker and bought another model that could safely accommodate a
car seat. John unhooked the carry pack. He placed Kitten in the car
seat which faced backwards in the rear of the vehicle. After checking
to make sure the restraining straps were securely fastened both on
the seat's steel frame and around his precious cargo; John shut the
doors on the passenger side, got in and buckled up.

"Final systems check on fuel, communications, and on-board electronic
systems.", he intoned in a nasally voice as Kitten voiced her
approval behind him. "We have ignition." John turned the key and
started the engine. "The launch site is clear...", they were on their
way home. Luka wasn't due in until about three in the morning, so
John had Kitten all to himself. Luka's business trip was the first
time either of them had been away from home for more than fifteen
hours since she'd been returned to them. When John reached the
apartment, Mrs. Riordan let him in.

"How did she behave?"

"Good as gold." John grinned as his godmother took the sleepy
baby. "Dr. Welles gave her a clean bill of health and the day-care
staff almost came to fisticuffs trying to decide who would feed her.
What's for dinner?"

"I ordered take-out. I've been busy with the party arrangements for
most of the afternoon."

"Anything I can help with?"

"No, me boyo. We're all done.", she left with Kitten and went to the
baby's room.

* * * * *

When Luka let himself into their apartment shortly before four in the
morning, a strong feeling of deja vu made him rub his eyes. John was
asleep on the floor in front of the couch wearing his caftan. Kitten
was zonked out in her carry crib next to him. A computer printout
sign bearing the legend, "Welcome home, Papa!" was pinned to the
cushions above the two sleepy heads.

John woke to a soft kiss on his cheek. "Mmmm, you're an icicle. I'll
have to rub you until you're warm again."

"Did she miss me?" Luka smiled as his husband sat up.

"Oh yeah. We had a contest. It was a tie. I'm soo glad you're back.
Why don't you put her to bed while I get you unpacked?"

"Only if I get to put you to bed afterwards." Luka shrugged out of
his coat and gently picked up the crib.

John grabbed Luka's suitcase and headed for their bedroom. Unpacking
was easy, nearly everything went into the hamper. Smiling as he
shoved the suitcase into the closet, John went to Kitten's room.
Grinning, he stopped in the doorway. Kitten was in her big crib, wide
awake and looking around. Luka was asleep in the chaise. Like
Princess Aurora, Luka was wakened with a kiss. However, the family
entertainment empire she ruled would have shaken their heads over the
amount of tongue involved.

"Come to bed, Sascha. Game's called on account of old age. You can't
seem to keep up with me anymore..." John suddenly found himself
upside down over Luka's shoulder as his "irate" husband hauled him
back to their bedroom where he was dumped on the bed.

"Let's see if this old man can make you eat your words..." Luka
gasped as John scooted across the bed and helped himself to some
Croatian sausage. When he paused to put on the condom, John
winked. "Before I slip you into something more comfortable, aren't
you a little warm with all those clothes on?" Trousers, suit coat,
shirt, tie, socks, and shoes soon littered the floor. "Where are your

"In my coat pocket. I took them off at the airport."

"Damn, and I missed it. I think you may have come up with a
sensational replacement for in-flight movies..." John grinned.

"Come here, Janaskja."

John slipped out of his caftan and stood in Luka's embrace. "I love
you." He murmurmed when his mouth was released. Sinking to his knees,
he looked up and smiled. "Now, where was I?"

Luka inhaled as John did the same; deep-throating his husband with
rare skill. As his head bobbed, Luka thrust into the warm confines of
his husband's mouth. John kneaded the muscles of Luka's ass, hanging
on as if his life depended on it. A strangled cry from above signaled
Luka's release. John let Luka's cock slip from his lips and gently
peeled off the condom. He caught his beloved just as he swayed
towards the bed.

"You're exhausted, Sascha. Lie still while I get something to make
you decent. Then I'm tucking you in for the night." When John
returned from the bathroom with a warm washcloth, Luka was asleep.
Smiling, Carter lightly wiped the man he loved, shifted his legs onto
the bed and drew the covers over him. "Good night, my dearest heart.
I missed you and am so very glad you're home."

He collected the clothing from the floor and hung up the suit then
went to check on Kitten. Dropping Luka's shirt and socks into the
hamper, he peeked in at their daughter. In the soft blue glow from
the icon lamp, he could see she was asleep. John softly straightened
her bedclothes then left pulling the door half-way closed behind him.

"She's asleep?" Luka was now awake.

"Uh-huh. Scoot over, Sascha. We've got a lot to do in the next couple
of days. John moved into Luka's arms and sighed contentedly. "Go back
to sleep, strong heart or else I'll be forced to sing to you."

"Good night, beloved. I do love you."

"Right back at cha, Papa."

* * * * *

The apartment building where John and Luka lived had originally been
an expensive hotel. Two large ballrooms took up most of it's ground
floor. These party rooms could be reserved by residents. In one,
tables and chairs had been set up providing ample space for the
guests to sit and eat a catered buffet meal. One corner of this room
had been partitioned off as a nursery for the small children of the
ER staff. A large-screen television, VCR, sleeping cots, and toys
were set out.

Chairs and small tables were lined up around the walls of the main
ballroom which also featured two bars: one serving alcoholic
beverages and one devoted to dispensing bottled water, coffee, and
soft drinks. Cyril and Charles had sent thirty custom-burned CDs
which included everything from rap and hip-hop hits to Christmas
carols and vintage big-band compositions. When trying on their
wedding tuxedos a week before the party, John was shocked to discover
he needed to have his waist-band let out. He'd regained the weight
he'd lost with interest.

Once again, Roland under-wrote temps for the ER staff, so everyone
could attend. One hour before the festivities officially got
underway, John and Luka and special VIP guests assembled in their
living room. Five minutes after the large ships clock chimed 7:30,
the invitees began singing "Happy Birthday" to a delighted Katerina
seated in a high-chair Charles had decorated to resemble a royal
throne. One year ago to the minute, John had gone out for a smoke and
changed his and Luka's lives forever.

One by one, the "characters" from "Kitten's Tale" came forward and
presented small gifts to her smiling parents. Bringing up the rear,
was a blushing Rocket Romano, who mumbled something and placed a
floppy plush red-bird on the tray to the high chair. Katerina
startled everyone by clearly enunciating "Bwast Off." The sight of
Romano kissing the baby's fingers stunned everyone into silence. As
Luka distributed drinks, John explained Kitten's seemingly appropos

"Whenever she rides in the car with us we go through this NASA
routine. For the past six months she's been hearing both of us
saying 'blast off' at least four times a week."

"Well, at least she didn't pick tonight to add 'Daddy' to her
vocabulary." Romano grinned.

"She'll probably get around to it sooner or later.", Luka handed the
Chief a champagne flute. "Janaskja?"

"No, thanks. I'll wait and have my glass on Christmas Eve. You got
any ginger-ale, gorgeous?"

The guests moved downstairs after John and Luka opened Kitten's
gifts. The remaining ER staff and other guests had arrived with their
spouses or dates for the evening. The only singletons there were
Romano and Malucci who didn't seem to mind the teasing at their
expense. Ella Greene and her infant brother, Reese Benton, and
Connie's youngest had their own party in the dining room. By the
time, the adult party kicked into second gear, they'd watched videos
and fallen asleep.

A conga line had started accompanied by the raucous Yugoslavian folk
song played at John and Luka's wedding reception. As each couple
passed under the large plastic spray of mistletoe, some scorching
kisses were exchanged. The wild music went on. Charles had "looped"
the tune to allow enough time for everyone to have a chance to pass
beneath the "kissing post".

Finally, the tail of the line moved into position. Malucci, followed
by Romano broke away from the line and began to dance together. It
was the wedding dance. The ER staff stood flabbergasted as the two
men, arms on each other's shoulders whirled and twirled around the
rapidly widening space on the dance floor. By the time the joyous
music came to a close, everyone was clapping in time. When the music
fell silent, Dave Malucci took Romano's face in both hands and kissed
him senseless.

For two seconds, you could have heard a pin drop then the cheering
and yelling began as Romano raised their clasped hands over his head.
Light from the revolving disco ball glinted off their gold rings.

"Here we go again.", Sarah Nicholson laughed as John swept her onto
the dance floor.

"Trust me. If those two adopt, I'll eat the Sear's Tower with cream
sauce." John laughed. He and Luka had been "double-dating" with the
couple while keeping their secret. Romano's seeding of the search
committee's quest for a new administrator had paid off handsomely.
The middle-aged woman, dancing with her wife waved cheerily at John
and Sarah then moved past them to the strains of a Viennese waltz.
Her partner, an un-frocked Lutheran minister, had married County's
newest couple between shifts earlier in the week.

"I just love coming-out balls, don't you?" Millicent asked straight-
faced as her partner "Harriet" Rosenbaum twirled her across the
floor. "Yes ma'am.", the judge's clerk squeaked out when he could
finally speak. Visions of Romano and Malucci wearing leather chaps
and not much else, kept a grin on his face for the rest of the

Dave endured some good-natured ribbing from his friends about sucking
up to senior staff and covering his boss's ass before Romano stepped
in and silenced the well-wishers by whisking Dave away for another

Just before midnight, Jane Franklyn came in with Laurencia Carlton
and Judge Waterston. This time, Roland stood on a chair and blew a
piercing whistle as the trio of late-comers made their way to the
public address microphone.

"Last year on this night, Dr. Kovac-Carter found an abandoned baby
girl. He saved her life and our office granted this young man and his
husband temporary custody as foster parents. Then we stupidly
reversed our decision. I'm very glad we missed the dinner portion of
tonight's festivities because I and my colleagues have eaten enough
crow to last a lifetime. Speaking of which...", Jane turned to the
Judge who looked at his watch.

"John, Luka, would you come forward please?" The Judge was grinning
from ear to ear. "Mrs. Riordan?" John and Luka turned, surprised to
see their babysitter emerge from the dining room/nursery carrying
Kitten who was dressed in her christening robe.

"By the powers vested in me by the state of Illinois and Cooke
County, I am pleased to announce your petition to adopt the baby girl
known as 'Katerina Doe' has been summarily approved by all reviewing
parties. As of midnight tonight, this child will become the legally
adopted daughter of John Truman Kovac-Carter and Luka Aleksandr
Carter-Kovac and will henceforth be known by the name of Katerina
Alexandra Carter-Kovac. Happy birthday, little one.", the judge
called out as midnight struck.

"Here are the necessary papers." Laurencia Carlton laughed at John
and Luka's open-mouthed expressions. "Sign them and return them to
Jane's people before the new year and it'll be official." Grinning,
she reached into her evening bag. "Well what do you know, I happen to
have a pen right here."

John and Luka eagerly signed the complicated forms and affadavits
then handed them to Jane Franklyn. "She's all yours." Jane took
Kitten from Mrs. Riordan and handed her to John and Luka.

"God bless us everyone!" Malik called out as more cheers went up from
the guests.

After being congratulated, the petite guest of honor was taken
upstairs by Mrs. Riordan.

John and Luka made their way through the crowd until they stood under
the mistletoe. When they came up for air, thunderous applause rang in
their ears. "Thanks guys. Thank you for friendship, your wonderful
support, for everything." John said right before Luka kissed him

And they lived happily ever after.

The End

Author's Notes:
Before I go on sabbatical to investigate the pleasures of semi-
lurkerhood, I want to thank the "co-stars" in this story---
Cathy "Paediatric Nurse" Roberts, Melissa "No Last Name Needed" Star
Medical Student, Dr. S.J. "Paediatrician" Welles, Nurse "Evan Ross is
a Jerk" Matheus, J.R. "Editor to the Stars" Smythe, Mrs. "Anybody
Have Earplugs for this Crying Baby?" Reece, Indra "An Author's
Reader" Sajin, and my personal posse: Cyril, Charles, and Laurencia.
I couldn't have made it this far without any of you. Please accept my
deepest gratitude.
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