A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
The smells...as he drew closer to consciousness Luka once more became aware of the scents around him, different this time...no flowers. A rumbling of his stomach narrowed down the most prominent of the smells...someone was cooking. He pushed the afghan that had somehow come to cover his head off, then rubbed at his face before creasing his forehead as his mind registered the second scent in the room.
"You're awake..." Luka pushed himself up on his arm as the doctor spoke and looked towards the desk where the man sat smoking a pipe. "You've smitten my wife...I should be jealous." A smile spread across his face with the teasing. "She made me promise to let you sleep until you woke on your own, and she insisted on saving supper for you so I hope you're hungry."
"That's not necessary..." He shook off the rest of the drowsiness as he sat up, but the chills remained.
"You may not think so, but it's been sometime since my wife insisted on anything. She also told me that you were running a temperature." He lay the pipe in the ashtray on his desk before moving over so he could check the accuracy of the information himself.
As he had with the man's wife Luka suffered the hand to his forehead in silence, only speaking when it was withdrawn. "I've been fighting malaria..it comes and goes." Without realizing he was doing it Luka pulled the blanket more tightly around his shoulders with the admission.
"Is there anything I can get you?" He frowned slightly as Luka shook his head in dismissal.
"I have medicine at home I'll take...and I just need to rest." His response was followed by a louder growling of his stomach which caused the older man to replace his frown with another smile.
"It would seem you need to eat as well. Let me show you the washroom and I'll let my wife know she can take your plate out of the oven." He brought a steadying hand to Luka's arm as he rose, only releasing him when he was sure the man fully had his legs under him. "This way then.."
Ten minutes later and Luka found himself seated at the small table in a kitchen awash in the smells of a homecooked meal. "You didn't have to do this..." He shook his head in amazement as the woman sat a bowl of homemade soup in front of him.
"It was my pleasure..now, stop talking and eat..it looks like you could use a good meal." Still not finished, Ingrid added a plate of freshbaked bread to the table. "There's more then enough for seconds, so dig in." Her eyes remained on him until he dutifully picked up the spoon that lay beside his bowl and began to eat. Satisfied, she turned away just long enough to fill a glass with milk. "I think you could probably use this too." Ingrid added as she sat the glass on the table as well.
"No use protesting son..." The doctor seemed to be taking a particular delight in his wife's doting and Luka couldn't help wondering if he and Danijela might have been like them had she lived.
He lowered the spoon a moment as the thought surfaced, then aware of the couple's eyes on him he raised it again. With the second bite his hunger took control and it was as much a surprise to himself as them when he finally lay the spoon to rest in the empty bowl. "It was very good...thank you."
"You're not done yet..." The woman shifted her eyes between the two men in the small kitchen.
"Ingrid..." The doctor's tone held a touch of warning his wife read correctly.
"Let me put what's left in a bowl then..you can take it home to heat up later." She waved a finger to discourage his beginning protest. "It's better then canned and you need to eat, now drink your milk."
Luka's mouth turned up in a smile before he reached for the glass, and after giving the woman a look of resignation, he drained it.
"That wasn't so bad, was it? Now..will you have dessert? I made some cherry cobbler, just the thing to fill you up." She had already begun to scoop the still warm treat into two bowls his answer given whether he realized it or not.
"I haven't eaten like this in a longtime." Luka took the bowl from her as she handed it to him. Too long he thought.
"Then it's time...you come over anytime you want a homecooked meal." Ingrid sat the second bowl on the table near her husband. "I knew you'd want a second helping..."
"You did, did you?" The doctor walked over and gave his wife a gentle kiss before taking the seat opposite Luka. "When you're done I'll give you a ride home. Will you need me to give you something to help you sleep as well?"
Luka shook his head as he swallowed the bite of cobbler he'd put in his mouth. "I'd rather not...getting to sleep really isn't the problem anyway."
"Ingrid..could you?" Dr. Johannesson motioned his wife towards the door as it appeared that Luka might want to talk.
"It's all right..." Luka lay the spoon in the bowl again as he caught the look exchanged between the two. Could this have been what it might have been like? The thought again broke the surface of his thoughts, momentarily interrupting his concentration. "Maybe it's the malaria...I dream a lot lately is all."
"Dreams can be a good thing, Luka...but not if they make it so you don't sleep. I hope I can help you with that. In the meantime, you have my number, and I want you to feel free to call no matter what time it is."
"That's not necessary." Luka offered the protest as he finished off the dessert.
"Let me decide that...okay? In the meantime, let's get you home so you can get a good night's rest." The doctor finished off the last bite of his own cobbler before rising. "I'll get our coats." He slipped past Luka with a smile.
"These are for you, you can bring the dishes back when you're finished. Mrs. Johannesson carried two containers and a foil wrapped package over and sat them on the table beside Luka.
"You don't have to do this..." Luka's protest again fell on deaf ears.
"I know...but I want to, and besides, I'm an old woman...humor me." Without thinking she brushed her lips across his forehead before she straightened. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Luka, come back anytime."
"Thank you..." What else could he say? He allowed a smile to say what his words fell short of.
"Here we go..." The doctor handed Luka his coat then picked up the dishes from the table. "I'll carry these for you."
"Thank you, again..." Luka looked between the couple. "Both of you."
"You're welcome, Luka, now let's get you home so you can get some sleep..."
to be continued...