Parenthood


AUTHOR: Dreamgirl
EMAIL: Dreamgirl_556@hotmail.com
CATEGORY: SL/LKo/Other
RATING: PG-13
SPOILERS: This will start out in the early days for Susan and Luka then work its way down. It will show what you may have seen on "ER" and what you didn't see. Think of what you didn't see as deleted scenes. So I put in what we saw already and got around it to create "deleted scenes." Anything that happened here that we didn't see on "ER", what if those scenes were deleted? I'm not done with this fic but so far the parts are based on the following episodes: "Motherhood," "Take Those Broken Wings," "Never Say Never," "Start All Over Again," "Lockdown" and "Chaos Theory." More will come later when I write more.
ARCHIVE: Yes.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything except my creative "deleted scenes" just to get around the real scenes we've seen. Just being creative! I just own them and the teenager.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Not done but I would like for you to read and review and let me know where you think I can go from there. I'm kind of having writer's block now! We've seen "ER" and we know that Susan and Luka do not have a child but what if they really did? Like, on "The Greater Good," Susan told Mr. Hollander that her mother died. I never heard her or anyone announce that she died so that was a surprise. Who knows? Susan and Luka may have a child and haven't even said anything so here, I'm creating that they do as if NBC deleted those scenes. Again, just being creative! Then of course, I did change a few things. Read and find out what! Go easy on the review because I worked hard on this, did some research and even proofread, spell and grammar-checked on Microsoft Word. If spelling or grammar's off, blame Microsoft Word! Negative and harsh feedback WILL NOT be accepted!!! I do not care if you don't like my fic. If you don't like it, don't read it and don't tell me what's wrong with it. If you really want me to change something, then too bad. Get your own fic. It's my fic and no one else's and I'll figure out on my own what's wrong. I just want feedback so I can get an idea what to write next.
SUMMARY: Susan and Luka are parents but didn't know till years later. Review please!



Chapter 1: Timeline

I wondered if I was doing the right thing. There, I lay on a bed at a general county hospital on April 24, 1988, when I was just 22 years old. I had just finished college and already had boyfriends, got pregnant three times but miscarried every time. Even my mother thought it was too early for me to have a child with my graduation and going into med school but I was determined to prove to my last boyfriend that I loved him. I was 20 at the time and he was in my child development 101 class. We were only freshmen and I thought it'd be great if we had a baby. It didn't matter. My boyfriend left anyways but I wanted to raise a child, even if I had to do it on my own with the help and support of my family while they paid the expenses for med school. Doing this, I harvested my eggs and decided to get a surrogate mother to help me have a baby and at the same time, I can earn a lot of money, which would help me with my tuition, my rent and my child's education, clothes and food. I know what you're thinking with med school and having to pay to get the IVF done. I had two scholarships when I was in college at the University of Illinois. What can I say? I was actually a 4.0 GPA student. It paid greatly for my rent in college and it was going for med school, too. Financial aid, loans and anything I can get to get into med school and have a baby. In my senior year in high school, my grandfather died and my grandmother didn't feel she had much use of her money and she had my grandfather's money left to her so she was willing to help pay for college as well. Life is so expensive! I even took in a lot of part-time jobs when I was in high school and college. Babies aren't so cheap. My family wasn't rich or poor but we lived financially stable. Med school seemed like it was a half of a million bucks! Where's John Carter's family when you need them?

The squeak of the chair sounded when the doctor backed away from my bed with a sigh. He pulled up a tube and handed it to his assistant. I lifted up my head to see the doctor. "Is that it?" I asked him.

"Yes. You can sit up on the bed now, if you'd like," the doctor told me as he stood up and removed his gloves. "The eggs will be inserted in the surrogate mother's uterus who's willing to carry the child for you. When that happens, we will call you and the child will be born about nine months from then." He removed his surgical gown and mask then turned over to my monitors, checking my blood pressure and heart rate. His assistant exited the room.

"Where will the eggs be fertilized? There's no one here in this area?" I asked.

"Not here at county. The surrogate mother will carry the child after the eggs are fertilized across town. It may take some time before the woman gets pregnant. Don't worry, when the woman is pregnant, we will give you the name of the person and when she is expected to have your baby."

I let out a sigh, putting my legs from the stirrups. "I've been through miscarriages already. I hope this works." I wasn't too confident that this would happen. My hands shook by my side as I bit my lower lip, staring down on the floor. I didn't even want to look at my doctor's face.

*****

I sat nervously in the waiting room inside a clinic where men could donate sperm. I was a very Christian man and believed in helping others. Yes, of course, I knew that I would be a father but there were infertile women out there in need of help with having a child.

So, what did I do? I got into med school and decided to donate sperm, which I can earn money so I can get through med school. My family was very poor but we managed to stay happy. The only family I have is my younger brother, Viktor. My mother died years ago when Viktor was only 5 years old. We stayed with our father who took care of us and loved us but had little money. My father was always a good man to us. He is a painter but that's just a hobby. To make a living, he is a train conductor so basically, he's traveled all over the country. Viktor and I had no choice but to stay with my grandparents often.

Viktor is just another long story. He couldn't handle the death of our mother or my father's frequent departure so he can do his job. My father had paintings all over our house and Viktor used to stare at them and figure out what the abstract paintings were all about. My grandfather tried to explain but Viktor would only leave before my grandfather could finish.

Viktor and I got along okay but there were some rough times. We stopped visiting each other and staying in touch. He always got himself in some trouble with men in our country, fighting, stealing and he once ran off to Zagreb to find a better living. I haven't heard from him since. It was before the war the last I heard of him.

The door opened when I heard a short woman calling my name. "Luka Kovac?" she asked. My eyes were tired and I was slowly approaching her, getting out of my seat. The older man who sat next to me touched my shoulder and smiled. I walked out of the waiting room and went with the nurse to a table. In Croatian, she told me to sign some forms then handed me a plastic cup. There I go. It was now or never. I shakily took the cup and the nurse pointed to where the bathroom was.

The bathroom was dirty as hell. So small, too. The rest of the country was beautiful even when many people managed to keep some money saved up. A lot of families were poor. A surrogate mother in Zagreb was going to carry a child for another Croatian woman who was infertile. I felt sorry for her but I knew I was ready to be a biological father even though this Croatian woman was married and was going to have my child with her husband.

I sat down on the toilet with the plastic cup still in my hand. Am I doing the right thing? I love children and I'd love to be a father. This day to become a father again was now. Again? My wife, Danijela and I were just courting and she was expecting a baby boy. Danijela loved me for being a loving man who was doing anything to help a mother. She had no objections to what I was doing on this day. No matter how many children I have, I will love her forever.

*****

Three weeks later…

"Susan, Dr. Merrill's on the phone!" my mom yelled out from the kitchen. I turned around in my room then put down my thick book of medical journals on my bed, reaching over to pick up her own phone. Oh, the headaches the book is giving me! Think I probably shouldn't have turned down Mark's offer to study with him. I knew Mark had started up a little crush on me but we both knew he was happily married with a baby daughter.

"Thanks, I got it, Mom!" I yelled back.

I put my ear on the phone, hearing her mother hang up the phone. "Hello?" I said.

"Susan?" a male voice said to me on the phone.

"Yes?"

"Hi, Susan, this is Dr. Merrill from County General Hospital. I regret that I have bad news."

Oh, no. I've got a huge exam next week. I cannot take any bad news! The sound of his voice made me wonder if it had to do with my baby. "What is it?" my voice shook.

"Susan, we are going to do everything we can but it appears there has been a mix-up with your egg that hasn't yet been fertilized in the egg bank. The egg may have accidentally been moved to another country when we tried to transfer it to another clinic while it was waiting to be fertilized."

I was stunned. "What? Another country? How did that happen?"

"I don't know. My nurse just told me there is a center for surrogate mothers and unfertilized eggs are sent out to different countries so it's possible that the surrogate mother is out of the country. We don't know yet if the egg was fertilized there and if the woman is pregnant with your child."

I sat there trying to gather what this doctor was saying to me. "So… you don't know if my child will be born or if the baby is alive."

"No, I don't," Dr. Merrill told me without hesitation.

Sitting on my bed, I felt tears welling up from the back of my eyes. I breathed quicker, starting to shake. "Oh, god…" I whispered to him. "But I've been trying to get pregnant for a long time."

"I know," Dr. Merrill continued. "We'll keep looking into this and we'll call you back with any updates at all."

"Will you call back when you know for sure that my baby is alive?"

"Absolutely. We'll call you then."

"Ok…" I was too stunned to let out another word so I had to pause. "Thank you."

The phone clicked but I had the phone still in my hand as I stared right in front of me. I didn't realize I was already crying when I felt my first teardrop trickle down my cheek. More teardrops then I put down the phone on its cradle. No sound escaped my mouth. I just kept weeping my heart out. What if my baby was dead?

A quiet knock on my door. "Susan? Susan, honey, is everything alright?" my mother asked me.

I paused trying to compose myself some then I answered her. "No…" I moaned.

The door opened slowly then Mom walked in to see me. "Honey? What's wrong?" She stepped over to my bed, climbing on it then gently stroked my soft brown hair. I couldn't let any words out right away.

"It was Dr. Merrill. He doesn't know where my baby is," I answered. I could feel myself starting to crack.

My mother had a puzzled look on her face. "What do you mean, he doesn't know where the baby is?"

There I went. I finally cracked, sobbing into my mother's arms. My mother wrapped her arms around me tightly. "He doesn't know what happened. He only thinks that some mother was carrying the baby in another country because there's been some kind of mistake in the egg bank. They don't know what country so they lost the baby!" I wailed. My face soaked and felt warm. Mom sat there, stroking my hair and holding me. I guess she just wasn't so sure of what to say to me. She's a mom so I guess she knew it'd hurt a lot when you just found out you don't know where your child is.

*****

One day later….

I smiled at my daughter, Jasna, as she softly sang to her mother's tummy. The baby was coming soon. My life could never be better. Yes, it could. I haven't heard anything about any baby being conceived at all after I donated sperm and my baby boy hasn't been born just yet. We've just found out the other day I was going to have a son. I think that we're going to name him Marko.

Our phone rang while I continued to listen to my daughter sing to her unborn brother but I went to pick it up. Over Jasna's singing, I answered the phone. I kept listening then I stood still, surprised at what I was hearing on the other line. My wife, Danijela stared at my unhappy face as I was talking on the phone.

Danijela gently put a hand over our daughter's small hand and stood up, walking up to me. I spoke quietly on the phone and said goodbye. Danijela put a hand on my shoulder, asking what was wrong. I looked up at her with painful tears in my eyes. This was just going to be a child I was helping a woman have but I never knew that as my child being lost, whether dead or alive would just stab me in the heart. My child was indeed conceived but was moved to another town. The gentleman who spoke to me on the phone did not know where this woman was carrying my child but it was not the same Croatian woman I had spoken to on the phone weeks earlier. Someone else was going to carry my child and no one knew what country, if it was still in Croatia and if the biological mother was from Croatia or another country. It was clear the egg may have been accidentally submitted at the international center of surrogate mothers, meaning, my child could be born in another country and the real biological mother may not be Croatian.

*****

Seven years later….

I completed med school and one day, I carried my little niece, Suzie from my sister, Chloe's arms to our mother's arms. We were in the maternity ward on Mother's Day at Cook County General Hospital where Mom came on the day Suzie was born and visited Chloe and her baby. I sighed deeply, running my fingers through my hair, sitting down from Chloe's bed, watching her make a fool of herself in front of Mom… mouthing off and playing with food Mom had brought. I had been in the room for a while then when Mom was talking about the baby's father and our father, I started to get up. "I got to get back to work," I announced. I asked that Mom tell my father to come by to see the baby.

I was closing the door, listening to Chloe's remarks about Dad again. "Don't talk about your father like that!" Mom told Chloe. The door shut when I gave out another sigh then I was off to see more patients in the hospital. This was the hospital I had given my egg so I could have a child… then now, the child was lost.

"Susan? Susan, honey?" I heard my mother, "Cookie" run out of Chloe's room, calling out to me. I don't know why but Chloe always called Mom, Cookie. When we were little, Chloe was a good older sister and she taught me everything. Now look what she's done to herself.

I rolled my eyes and turned to Mom. It has been a long day. I had to get up early in the morning to deliver Chloe's baby, run back and forth from patients I had to treat and see how the baby was doing and I was still annoyed that after seven years, I did not have a child in my arms.

"What, Mom?" I sighed.

Cookie walked up closer to me leading me to sit down with her. "Susan, is something bothering you, honey?" she asked, touching my hair on my shoulder.

I sighed softly, running my fingers through my hair wearily and looked down at my lap. "No, Mom, why?" I answered my mother.

"Well, if you are worried about your sister, don't. You know Chloe didn't mean that about your father. Your father will be over to see the baby tomorrow. We'll be over again tomorrow then we'll meet Ronnie soon and everything will be fine. Are you tired because you got up so early this morning?"

Cookie just wasn't getting it, was she? "Mom, Chloe brought a child into the world that she should not be taking care of! Ronnie runs off and Chloe's drunk and high all the time. How is Chloe going to watch after the baby when she can't even look after herself?"

My mother sighed. "Susan, I know what you mean. Chloe has a baby now and who knows? Maybe having a baby will get her straightened out as Chloe learns how to take responsibility. The baby will teach her some responsibilities and how to take care of herself and the true meaning of life."

"Mom, you saw Chloe in there."

"Yes, I know, honey," Cookie nodded. "I'll talk to Chloe."

I should be the one having the baby, I thought. "Fine, Mom. Whatever." I started standing up and walking away.

"Susan!" Cookie exclaimed.

I stopped and turned to my mother once more time. "Mom, I can't, ok?"

"Can't what? Honey, talk to me."

I looked down at my feet then sat back down with my mother. "Ok, Mom… it's been seven years now. Seven years and I still don't have a baby in my arms. I mean, I held Suzie this morning but I don't have my own baby right now and here." The thought of Chloe having a baby and not having a baby of my own saddened me.

Cookie looked confused then turned her face into anticipation. With her lips closed, she breathed out through her nostrils and looked at me. "Susan, I know. Look, it has been seven years. No one knows anything. Don't you think that now's the time to move on?"

I looked at my mother. I couldn't believe what I heard. Just let years go by and forget about my own child? "No, Mom. I don't," was my serious response then with that, I stood up and dashed away back to the E.R.

*****

One year later…

It was 1995. Close to the end of the Croatia war. It seemed like the day would never come but our country's leader told us it was going to end soon. My family and I were homeless at last after a huge shell hit our apartment back in 1991 when they died at the beginning of the war. It was a cold and windy night and as the man of the family, I ordered my family to stay where they were so I can get some help. I ran for help and no one followed me. My family was suffering from extreme smoke inhalation. Fires were flaming everywhere and the town was being blown up. I ran down the stairs to find my family. The smell was horrible. It was rotten, bloody, the building was full of corpses, and bodies were buried with pieces of the building.

Danijela screamed out my name. I yelled back to her then I had acknowledged a man's worst nightmare. My son, Marko's crib was laying on the ground and he was right under there. His little hand extended outside the crib and that was the only part of him I can find. He was undoubtedly dead. I had lost my two-year-old son. Danijela cried in pain then another explosion boomed near my broken home. "Jasna!" I screamed. There, my four-year-old daughter was there, bleeding to death and fully unconscious. I ran up fast to my little girl to check for her breathing. Danijela kept on screaming and crying. My heart raced and I had to do something fast. I couldn't let my whole family die here.

I felt horrible because Danijela wanted to move but I didn't because I needed to finish my internship. I knew we should've moved to some place safe. Jasna lay there with no heartbeat and she wasn't breathing. I looked up, trying to scream for help. I screamed for help again and did CPR on Jasna. Danijela's weak body slumped over on the floor then I reached over for her pulse. She didn't have a pulse, either. My son was already dead. My whole family was dying. I spent hours, screaming for help, doing CPR on Jasna. Doing CPR on both Danijela and Jasna would be too hard so I worked on Jasna first. I kept going on her and Jasna wasn't coming back. No one came to help. I kept praying. I prayed and prayed that someone would come.

Finally, I gave up, exhausted. No one heard me over the loud explosions and shoutings. People were dying and bleeding to death. Their bodies were destroyed. I had lost my entire family. I also lost the child I was supposed to be the father of that I never met.

*****

I have never been happy with my niece Suzie for so long since Chloe abandoned her daughter while she ran high and drunk. Chloe was in school for a while, quit school, quit her job at a restaurant and just took off, claiming she was going to a flea market. Chloe did not return for her daughter. I did everything I could to make my niece happy without her mother around and was convinced that Chloe wasn't returning to pick up her daughter. I decided to put Suzie up for adoption then because I felt so strongly about Suzie and how close I was with her, I changed my mind and decided to adopt the baby myself. I met with a social worker and she told me that unless Suzie's parents came back, I would be granted rights to adopt her. Next thing I knew, I saw something I also wished I could see my baby do. Take her first two little steps!

The adoption was never final. After being unable to find anything about my child that was lost somewhere, I felt content with Suzie as if she was my own daughter, not Chloe's. Before I could adopt, my world started to fall apart. Chloe showed up and asked for her daughter back.

I remembered Chloe showing off her engagement ring at the small diner, Doc Magoo's. That day, I was furious with Chloe for showing up and wanting her baby back.

Chloe sat across from me at a booth with a smile. "I want to be a mother to my daughter," she said, her smile fading then she showed she was not kidding around like she used to.

I frowned at my sister and stared at her for a while. The nerve the woman had for leaving her baby then just coming back, asking for her daughter! "Well, that's too damn bad because you abandoned your daughter… and that's the best thing that's ever happened to her," I told her.

Without listening to her, I had enough of it then I grabbed my jacket and scarf and started to leave the diner. I couldn't accept that Chloe was really ready to accept responsibilities and worst of all… I couldn't bear to love Suzie very much and hold her then have my irresponsible sister show up out of the blue, wanting her daughter back. I threw the door opened with Chloe running after me. "She's my baby!!" Chloe screamed.

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One month later…

It was all true. My world started to fall apart. The most wonderful and precious thing to me was taken away from me because a judge decided that Chloe was clean and sober for five months and was capable of taking care of her child. Ha, you thought I was talking about my own baby? Nope, I'm talking about little Suzie! Chloe was engaged to a cop and recovering alcoholic, Joe and they came by to take little Suzie home.

Chloe asked me to put Suzie in the car seat in Joe's car in the back then Suzie burst out crying. Chloe tried to soothe her then… I realized something. "Oh, my god, where's Mr. B?" I exclaimed.

"Who?" Joe questioned.

"That ratty blue and pink bear thing," Chloe answered her fiancée.

I looked around the car. "I need to find it. I left it behind the door. She cannot ride without him, damn it! Ok, its ok, I'll go and find Mr. B for you." Joe held out a stuffed yellow bird for Suzie then I told him that it had to be Mr. B. I ran back into her apartment. I threw open the door then quickly ran around, tossing stuff around looking for the stuffed bear. My heart raced. The bear was nowhere. That wasn't the problem. I started to cry, still looking around. I felt the pain of losing Suzie already and I was feeling angry. The anger and hurt I was feeling wasn't just the thought of losing Suzie. That was just a feeling burying my thoughts and pain I have been feeling for about eight years now. Years went by and I never found anything about the baby that was supposed to be born. I am lost without the baby. Without Suzie, what would I feel? Nothing. Nothing but pain and emptiness like something was missing in my life.

I sobbed harder just when I heard Chloe yelling out to me. I ran to the window to find Chloe holding up a pink and blue bear. "We found it!" Chloe shouted. Without closing the door, I ran out of the apartment and went down to Joe's car, puffiness and tears in my eyes with a smile. I had said goodbye to Suzie… but not forever.

Within days after Suzie left, my heart was broken and staff at the hospital was concerned about me. Remember Mark Greene? He was worried… oh, and that bitch, Kerry Weaver. She's not a bitch now but she was years ago. I decided to see a therapist. We went through psychoanalysis and my loss of Suzie. The days and nights of therapy continued then I told him the pain I had and how strong it was. I talked about the pain I was feeling and how I didn't want to move on from that.

"This hurt is so strong and present. It makes me feel her," I told my therapist. I had a cup of coffee in front of me so I sipped then I thought I shouldn't drink it or I'll never get to sleep. I never slept anyways at all since I lost Suzie. I kept on talking with him then got up to grab a cigarette. I needed to do something to relax.

The therapist nodded in his seat then leaned a little forward. "Susan… it sounds to me that you feel the emptiness in your life now and it hasn't been refilled. You feel it will never be refilled until someone very important or close to you comes into your life. Perhaps you do not have a man in your life and it's time you settled down in your life for the first time. I mean, you are just about in your thirties now."

I laughed softly. "Uh, I've had a lot of boyfriends in my life now and I'm just doing my residency. I need to finish so I can be chief resident next year so I don't think a man is something I need right now. It's so time-consuming."

"I understand," my therapist grinned. "You don't have Suzie right now. What about having kids someday?"

I sat motionless then frowned a bit. I bit my lower lip gently then took a deep breath. "I don't really know but I know that I went to a clinic eight years ago at County to have an IVF because I was having a difficult time being pregnant."

The therapist nodded, grabbing his notepad off his desk. "Tell me about it."

"Well, I gave my eggs to another woman who was supposed to carry my baby. This woman was supposed to be in this town but as it turns out, three weeks after the procedure, there was a mix up at the egg bank and my egg was transferred out of the country."

"Out of the country?" he said surprised.

"Yeah, crazy, isn't it? I don't know where or what country or who the father is. I tried calling back the clinic for a year to find anything. I called social services. No one could tell me anything and most of the time, they'd put me on hold for a long time and one of us would hang up. I'd go to the clinic myself to find out what happened. They didn't know anything. They knew that nine months later, women who were carrying other women's babies were giving births just about all over the world. The issue gets very complicated when it's possible that my baby has been carried overseas. I don't even know if the baby was born, if the woman miscarried, or if the baby died or something. It hurts that I don't know anything. I got pregnant once in high school and twice in college and I miscarried every time. All I ever wanted was to have a baby. My parents were going to support me any ways they can even when I was going to med school. I just… love babies. I love Suzie and I just love having the idea of having a baby and taking care of them. I like taking care of people and I found that out when I was beginning med school so I knew I really wanted to have a baby. Mom told me I had to move on and I'm trying to. Losing Suzie is making it harder."

The therapist nodded again. "Sounds like you're your own therapist. I think what's happening is everything you just said. You feel you needed Suzie because you lost your baby somewhere overseas. Suzie may have been there to fulfill your loss but she won't ever take the place of your real biological baby. The clinic lost your baby and it's been eight years so you just may have to move on if you never heard anything."

I looked down with a nod. Maybe he was right. The baby wasn't anywhere and there was no sign of being found and taken to the right biological parents. All I know is whether or not the baby is alive, I am still a mother to this child. It was time to move on and I had to find something else to fulfill my life and make myself happy. Get married. Maybe adopt a child someday.

I remember when I stood in the hall in the E.R. at the same time I was taking care of Suzie, arguing with a mother who had a pregnant daughter who was only 14. I tried to restrain the mother from seeing her daughter while med student, Harper Tracy was talking to the young pregnant teenager.

The mother was unaware of her young daughter's pregnancy when I was trying to keep her from going into the room where her daughter was.

"Look, you're not a mother, are you?" the mother asked.

The thought of the question hurt me. I was taking care of Suzie who wasn't even my daughter but I wished she was and I was also thinking about seven years before when I was already supposed to know about my baby. I didn't know what happened to my baby so the question was difficult but I tried to give the best answer I could. "No, I'm not," I finally told the mother.

"Then don't dismiss me… and don't keep me away from my baby!" the mother snapped. I stood there while the mother went around me and entered the room just when Kerry Weaver walked in front of me to tell me to call security.

The thought of Kerry Weaver led me to think about that moment the same time I was in therapy when we were in the trauma room. I got upset about a baby I just treated and angry about how the hospital was handling the case of a possible assault done by the mother. Kerry tried to reassure me but I kept shouting about how family services and the police do not do anything about the mother abusing her child.

I stepped over to the trauma doors, yelling, "do you even know what is going to happen if the baby doesn't stop crying and the mother just keeps shaking her and shaking her?" I could feel the tears growing in my eyes.

Kerry gently put a hand on my back. "We can't solve this, Susan. I wish we could but we both know we can't. So we're going to do everything we can to take care of the child," she assured me. I couldn't bear the thought of babies being treated badly, being taken away or even being lost. After all, babies are humans like adults are. I wanted to see Suzie so much. Suzie was gone but now I wished that the clinic did not have a mix up. I'd give anything to see my baby.

I was in the E.R. for few more months, having a close friendship with Mark Greene as we grew closer, getting over my fear of flying, planned my trip to Maui but had fear on the plane again so I stopped in Phoenix to see Chloe and Suzie and took a train back to Chicago.

Ten days after I was expected in Maui, I returned on Halloween night and kept working in the E.R. as if nothing new was going on. Suddenly, I kept feeling empty again. Suzie was gone and I turned down as chief resident. Of course, I had Mark Greene and others in the E.R. but it just wasn't enough. I didn't know what direction to take in my life and I just felt that County was the place where I can remember about my baby that I never saw. Being at County made me think of the baby all the time so it was difficult to move on. Chicago was… a little too cold and rainy for me and I missed Suzie and liked Phoenix. So I made a final decision and decided the best way to see Suzie and move on from my baby, dead or alive was to move to Phoenix.

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Five years later…

I was in the king-size bed of Charlie "Dix" Dixon, in Phoenix, Arizona. It was late August and almost 112 degrees! "Dix" as I called him, was a cowboy and was my boyfriend I dated for almost a year then.

I slowly opened my eyes when I heard Dix climb out of bed. "Good morning, Susan!" he said cheerfully. God, does he have to be so loud?

"'Morning," I sighed, half-asleep. Morning, already? No, thank you.

"Want some breakfast burritos? I can put in a lot more meat this time!" Dix continued to be cheerful.

"Hmmm, no, thanks. I think I'll just get something on the way to the hospital."

Dix nodded, strapping his belt on. "No problem, babe," he leaned to kiss me on the cheek. "I've got to head out a little early too but I got time to fix me some of that breakfast burritos. What time do you get off today? Want to do something tonight? Go hang around the ranch and maybe we can have a nice little romantic picnic dinner with candlelight under a million stars," Dix continued with his sensual, romantic voice.

A smile grew across my face. "That sounds wonderful, Dix," I said then sat up on the bed. "However, I need to talk to you."

"Oh, ok. What is it, Susan?" Dix asked, sitting next to me and pulling on his cowboy boots. "Uh-oh… you're pregnant!" he guessed.

I laughed. "No, that's not it. That is what I wanted to talk to you about. We have been together for a long time and I realize that we have been getting quite serious."

Dix sat, looking at me. He nodded slowly. "Well, yeah, I suppose so. I mean, I don't want to be pushy or rush into anything like that if you are not comfortable with it."

"Well, that's good, Dix. That's why… I think that we should be more careful. I know that sometimes you don't even use protection and I haven't been taking birth control pills lately. From now on, I think we need to be more serious about using protection now that we have been dating for about a year. I'd like to stay with you because Chloe, Suzie and Joe are moving to St. Louis and I don't want to follow them around again but I think when it comes to sex, we need to be a little more slower."

Dix looked a little confused but surprised. "Slower? Susan, we been going out for a year. How much slower can this go? We've used protection lately and I think that we should… I don't know maybe get married and have a baby," he said nervously.

I stared at Dix for a few minutes then got up from our bed. "A baby?" I exclaimed. All this guy cared about was a baby? I mean, I love babies but I just couldn't get pregnant after three miscarriages.

"Oh, boy, here we go…" Dix sighed to himself. He knew that it was going to get ugly because every time we argued about something serious, the outcome was not good.

"Dix, you know about my miscarriages. I cannot go through with it again. In fact, I am almost certain that I will lose the baby this time and even next time. Do you know how traumatic it is to a woman when she has more than one miscarriage and always wondering where her baby is like thirteen years ago and ends up worrying about losing another child?"

Dix sighed deeply, looking into my eyes. "Susan, you've got to let it go," he told me. I rolled my eyes with a soft groan. I wish everyone would stop telling me that. "That was thirteen years ago and you haven't found the child so what makes you think you will? You miscarried and had another woman carry your baby but we don't even know if the baby is alive. It's time to move on. Besides, you can see a doctor about the fertility problems. Have you seen one about that?"

I resented the way Dix spoke about my baby. "Yes, I have, Dix."

"Well, see a doctor here in Phoenix and get a second opinion. I'm sure there's something that can be done so you can have a baby."

"Dix… I have suffered for years because I lost my baby in Chicago and I don't know where the child is now. I am tired of thinking about my miscarriages and I don't want to worry about getting pregnant again. I want to find out one day if my child is still around and whether or not he or she is alive. Right now, I don't want to worry about it unless the child shows up at my doorstep. I have moved on with my life and the last thing I need to worry about is having another miscarriage!" I snapped.

"Ok, ok," Dix put his hands up. "Let's not talk about the miscarriages then."

I shook my head. "Dix, I'm sorry. This is not working. Suzie and Chloe left and all you care about is having sex and having babies. I'm beginning to miss my home now in Chicago."

Dix looked at me with his jaw dropped. "What?" He stood up from the bed, facing me. "You'd actually go back to Chicago? I thought the hospital there reminded you of your missing baby."

"Well, it did. Chicago is my home and I miss Chicago. I miss County even if it reminds me of my baby. I miss my friends. Everyone. Besides, I know I can find a new position in other hospitals in Chicago and I'll still visit my friends at County sometimes."

"What if they want you back there?"

I sighed. I didn't even think of that. Some of my closest friends like Mark Greene might want to hire me back. "Well… if they need more attendings then, I'll be willing to go back. It's been five years and I'm sure I'll get over the reminder."

"So, this is it. You're just leaving."

I looked at Dix. It was the right decision. "Yeah."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two months later…

I stuck my head out on the train back into the city of Chicago with a cup of coffee in my left hand and a briefcase in my right hand. I took a deep breath then stepped off the train. People walked around kissing and hugging their loved ones as they were getting off the train. I walked across from the entrance of the Union Station and crossed the streets. The streets were busy as usual, just the way I remembered it five years ago. Although, it looked pretty cloudy and damp. Had it just stopped raining? I walked into the ambulance bay at County while I saw an unfamiliar woman doctor who was white with a little dark complexion. The doctor and a paramedic were arguing about a corpse on the gurney as an artificial leg fell down from the corpse onto the ground.

I walked into the E.R. and I was no longer holding my coffee. I could tell right away the E.R. was swamped. People crowded the admit desk and the desk was different than it used to be five years ago. Not a minute passed when I thought about my baby in almost five years unless someone brought it up. I have finally moved on for sure. If the child showed up, great. If not… did I mention I moved on? Oh, that's right, I did. Okay, let's move on! I struggled for a few minutes to get someone's attention at the admit desk. Finally, I got a desk clerk's attention.

"Hi, I'm looking for Dr. Greene," I said.

"Fill this out, take a seat over there," he told me, pushing up a form on a clipboard on the desk.

"Uh, no, I'm not a patient. We're having lunch."

The desk clerk pointed at the chairs in the lobby. "Chairs are that-a-way."

"Ok, but you'll tell him I'm here?"

"I'll tell him."

"You might want to know my name." I continued with the desk clerk just until a tall man in a doctor's white coat with a different accent accidentally bumped into me.

I was a little startled by the bump as I looked up at him. "Oh!" I gasped. I started to speak but something stopped me. The tall man in the lab coat, that's what. Wow! He's really cute… and tall. He looked down at me and I wasn't sure what he was thinking. Did he find me hot or was I just rude for nearly bumping into him? "Excuse me," I said.

The foreign doctor looked down at me for a few minutes then he politely grinned at me. "Pardon. My fault," he said. Ok, I guess he does like me. Not that he knows me.

Right, back to business. "Maybe you can help me. I'm looking for Mark Greene."

The doctor pointed out a finger, signaling me to wait then he spoke to a male nurse. "Yosh, labs are back on that gallbladder in exam one?" he asked him.

"Check with the computer," the male nurse told the doctor.

"He's a friend of mine," I interrupted, grinning.

"Hold on," the foreign doctor told me.

I smiled weakly. "I been holding on all my life for a really cute, tall guy like you. How much longer do you want me to hold?" I thought as I watched him walk away.

He walked over to a brunette woman in blue nurse scrubs. "Have you still not forgiven me?" she asked the tall doctor.

"My angelfish died," he complained.

"I'll buy you another one," the nurse assured him.

"There were two of them."

"I'll buy you three!" she pleaded for his forgiveness. I sighed, looking at the tall doctor then looked around the E.R. to get someone's attention just when I met an unpleasant former patient. What a way to welcome me back to Chicago!

Hours after I bumped into the foreign doctor at Admit, I nearly jumped with joy when I found out that I had to work on a patient… with him! Yippeeee!!! We worked on the patient who accidentally overdosed on pills when we first worked together.

*****

I stood outside of the trauma room, taking off my trauma gloves as I watched the new beautiful blonde female doctor walk by towards the drug lock-up. She walked in there quietly and I wasn't sure but she did seem just a bit upset about something. Maybe about the patient we lost that we worked on together. It's always hard on a doctor when losing a patient especially when a Hispanic woman misunderstands the directions on her medicine bottle. She took 11 pills a day when she was really supposed to take it once a day. I never knew this female doctor so I don't know how hard she takes it losing her

patients.

The new doctor started to leave the drug lock-up just until I walked up to her. "Uh, hi…" I smiled at her.

The female doctor looked surprised to see me. Finally, she smiled at me. "Hi, there. Um, I don't believe we've introduced ourselves."

"No, I just know you're an attending."

The doctor laughed. "Yeah, sorry. I was so focused on our patient. I'm Susan Lewis," she grinned, extending her hand out to me.

I took her hand and shook it. "Hi, Susan. I'm Luka Kovac. I'm also an attending here. From what I heard in trauma when you were talking about meds, I take it you used to work here?"

Susan nodded at me, brushing her beautiful hair away from her face. "Yes, I left here five years ago and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I got a little overheated, I guess, and decided to move back here," she joked about the heat with a giggle.

I smiled at her cute giggle. "Well, welcome back. I guess that explains how you learned Spanish? A lot of people in Phoenix spoke in Spanish?"

"Yeah, lots. So, um… I can hear the accent. Where are you from?"

"I'm from Croatia. I've been here for about two years now. Just wanted to start a new life someplace else and America sounded good to me."

Susan nodded. "Yeah, I think I know what you mean. It's a nice accent."

"Oh, thank you. I'm glad I didn't leave it on the plane on the way here." I had to show her my sense of humor as I grinned at her. Maybe it started to work as I watched Susan laugh at my joke. "Listen, I was just hoping that you were okay. I know losing a patient like that can be very hard."

"Yeah, it is," Susan nodded. "It happens to me all the time when I'm in the ER then I begin to move on and keep working."

"Come on, Luka, ask her!" I thought to myself. I smiled and couldn't stop staring at the attractive doctor.

"Is something wrong?" Susan asked me as I can hear nervous laughter in her.

"No, not at all. I was just wondering something. You know, maybe we can do something tonight. Go out and have some drinks or something?"

Susan looked at me for a minute and I stood nervously, not sure if that was the right thing to say. "Uh… I guess that would be fine. I usually have a rule against dating co-workers but that was in Arizona so I guess I can break that rule again."

"Yes!" I wanted to say aloud. "Great! Tonight at 8:00?"

"Sure. See you then. I have to get back to work."

I nodded then I watched Susan walk away down the hall.

Susan and I had spent lots of time working together on patients for quite a while. Mark Greene had hired Susan back to County as an attending. I was delighted when I heard the news from my former girlfriend, nurse Abby Lockhart. We had a nice time that night we talked to each other but we kept it professional though I think both of us had feelings. We weren't too close and had never thought about being more than just two people working together in the future.



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