Susan Lewis sat numbly in the doctor's lounge at County General Hospital. She still couldn't believe that her best friend, Mark Greene, was gone. I knew this was coming, she said to herself. I knew he didn't have much time left. Susan wiped her eyes with shaking hands. But it still hurts that he's gone. There were so many things we didn't say to each other. The door to the lounge opened and Luka Kovac, who had become a close friend to Susan, entered.
"I was looking for you," he said softly. Luka pulled out a chair and sat next to Susan. He knew better than to ask if she was all right. She had just lost one of her closest friends. She was not all right.
"I've been here for a little while," Susan replied. "I was filling out some charts and I started thinking about him." Susan tried to hide her tears, but Luka began to rub her back and she broke down. "Oh, God, Luka, I miss him so much." Luka wrapped his arms around Susan and gently stroked her back.
"It's okay," he soothed. "I'm here. I won't leave you." Susan continued to sob. Kerry Weaver entered the lounge at that moment. She looked at Susan and began to feel sorry for her. It was true that Susan and Kerry were far from friends, but they were both mourning the loss of Mark.
"Susan, why don't you go home?" Kerry said gently. "It's pretty slow around here right now." Susan wiped her eyes and nodded.
"Yeah, I will. Thanks, Kerry," Susan said. She went to her locker and took out her jacket. Luka turned to her.
"I'm off in a half an hour," he said. "Do you want to meet at Doc Magoo's?"
"Luka, why don't you take Susan home?" Kerry said, which surprised both Luka and Susan.
"Are you sure, Kerry?" Kerry nodded.
"Yeah, I think Susan needs a friend right now." Susan smiled gratefully at Kerry.
"Thank you," she said. Luka took his jacket out of his locker and put his arm around Susan.
"Good-night, Kerry," Luka said.
"Good-night, you guys," Kerry replied. Luka and Susan walked out of the ER and headed to Doc Magoo's. Susan stopped as they neared the restaurant.
"I don't feel like going in," she said. "It'll be crowded with everyone from the ER and I really don't feel like being there right now. I need some time alone." Luka nodded.
"I'll walk you home then," he answered, and took her hand. "You're not alone, Susan. I'll always be here when you need me." Susan smiled through her tears.
"Thank you," she whispered.
About twenty minutes later, Susan and Luka reached her apartment. Susan opened the door and turned to Luka.
"Would you like to come in?" Luka was surprised.
"I - I thought you wanted to be alone," he began. "You didn't want to go to Doc's and -"
"If you want to leave, it's okay," Susan said, and looked at the floor. "I'm probably not the best company right now anyway." Luka tipped her head up to look into his eyes.
"If you want me to stay, I will," he said softly. Susan smiled.
"I want you to stay," she replied. Luka entered and took off his coat as Susan locked the door behind him. "Would you like some tea?"
"Why don't you let me make it?" he said. "I know where you keep the tea bags." Luka and Susan had spent a lot of time together in the past few weeks, and Luka could find his way around Susan's apartment in the dark. Susan nodded and sat on the sofa.
"That would be great, thanks," she answered. Luka walked into the kitchen and Susan could hear him moving around: filling the kettle with water, taking two mugs out of the cabinet, and opening the container where she kept the tea bags. "What a day." Susan stretched out on her sofa and kicked off her shoes. Luka came into the living room and sat next to her. He put her feet in his lap and looked at his friend.
"I'm so sorry," he said. Susan nodded, feeling a lump in her throat. She didn't want to cry anymore. She had been crying since that morning. After Carter had read the letter that Elizabeth had faxed, Susan had run to the ladies' bathroom and cried for a few minutes, until Abby came to find her to say that she was needed in a trauma. Susan fought the tears again, but this time Luka noticed.
"Hey," he said gently. "It's okay." Susan folded her legs underneath her as Luka moved closer and hugged her close to him. "Go ahead." Susan sobbed, a sob of heartbreak and anguish. Luka did as he had before in the lounge - he stroked her back and spoke in a soothing voice. "It's all right. I'm here."
"H - How much loss am I s - supposed to take?" Susan stuttered. "My b - baby, and now M - Mark. It's too much." Luka hugged Susan tighter, wishing that he could take all of her pain away: the miscarriage she had suffered in Arizona, Mark's illness and death, all of it. He just wanted to make her happy.
"At least he's not in pain anymore," Luka said. "I know that is probably not much consolation to you. I'm sorry." Susan wiped her eyes and looked at Luka.
"No, you're right," she said. "He had seizures, and the chemotherapy made him so sick. I didn't blame him for stopping the treatments. But I wish that somehow there had been a miracle, and he had been cured." Susan pushed her hair back. "I sound like a fool, don't I?" Luka smiled at his friend.
"No, not at all," he replied. "I wished for the same thing. He was a wonderful man."
"And a great friend," Susan continued. "And a terrific father." She sighed. "Poor Ella won't even get to know him."
"I'm sure that Rachel and Elizabeth will have a lot of stories to tell her," Luka said, as Susan rested her head on his shoulder.
"Yeah," she said softly. "Thank you for being here, Luka."
"You're welcome," he replied. Susan was silent for a couple of moments, and Luka looked at her, only to find she had fallen asleep. He picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. Luka gently laid her on the bed and covered her with a blanket. The tea kettle whistled then and Luka shut it off. He poured some tea and debated about leaving. "She needs me. I should stay." Luka went to the bedroom and peeked in. Susan, her face streaked with tears, was fast asleep. Luka nodded, his decision made.
Susan awoke the next morning to the smell of coffee and pancakes. She slowly sat up in bed and looked around. The clock on her bedside table read 8:40. She had three hours to get to work. Susan exited her bedroom and walked into the kitchen. Luka smiled at her.
"Morning, sleepyhead," he said, a grin on his face. "How did you sleep?"
"Did you stay here all night?" Susan questioned. Luka nodded.
"I figured you needed a friend, and I didn't want to leave you all alone," he replied. "I hope that was all right." Susan wrapped her arms around Luka and kissed his cheek.
"Thank you," she said, and smiled at him. "I really appreciate this."
"You're welcome," Luka said. "Sit down, I made breakfast."
"It smells great," Susan replied. She sat down and Luka placed a cup of coffee and plate of food in front of her. "Thank you, waiter," she said, and giggled. "I could get used to this."
"Well, I'll just have to stay over every night and make you breakfast in the morning," Luka said. There was an uncomfortable silence between the two friends. There had been a bit of tension between them since the morning that Susan woke up in Luka's arms. They were attracted to each other, but Luka knew this was the absolute worst time to tell Susan how he felt. She was mourning the death of her best friend. He would tell her how he felt some other time.
"This is delicious," Susan said, finally breaking the silence between them. "If this whole doctor thing doesn't work out, you can be a chef."
"Thank you," Luka said quietly.
"Where did you learn to cook?" Susan asked.
"My wife," Luka replied. "She was a wonderful cook. I would watch her and she insisted that I learn." Susan smiled.
"She was very special to you," Susan replied. Luka nodded.
"Yes, she was." Luka sat across from Susan and looked at her. "How are you feeling?" Susan sipped her coffee and stared into the mug.
"Weird," she said. "I expect to go to work and see him there, but I know that's not going to happen." She set the mug down and pushed her hair back. "You should eat something."
"I will," he replied. Luka reached across the table and took Susan's hand. She looked into his eyes. "I promise you that I will always be here when you need me. Always." Susan smiled and knew that Luka was telling her the truth. He would always be there for her.
"Thank you," Susan replied. "Come on, get some breakfast before it's cold." Luka rose from his seat and went to the kitchen. He took some breakfast and sat down with Susan to eat. They had a pleasant morning together.
The following days were tough for everyone in the ER who knew and cared about Mark Greene. Elizabeth, Ella and Rachel returned to Chicago with Rachel's mother, Jen, for the funeral. Doug and Carol Ross flew in from Seattle. All of Mark's family and friends gathered at a dinner following the funeral and shared stories about Mark.
During the dinner, Susan stepped outside to get some air. Luka, who had been at her side the entire time, followed.
"Do you want to be alone?" he asked gently. Susan shook her head. Luka took off his suit jacket and put it around Susan's shoulders. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I am," Susan replied. She took a deep breath and looked at Luka.
"Today was rough," Luka said. Susan walked around the patio.
"But we made it through," she answered. "The service was nice."
"Yes, it was," Luka replied. He didn't want to talk anymore. All Luka wanted to do was wrap his arms around Susan and make her feel completely safe. Without thinking about it any further, he did just that. Susan rested her head on his chest.
"I feel safe," she said. "I know that you'll always be here for me." Luka stroked her hair.
"I will," Luka said. "Always." Luka and Susan sat on a bench, their arms around each other, and quietly looked at the stars.