A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
Over the next several weeks Luka found that he began to look forward to the visits with Dr. Johannesson. While he was not free of the nightmares by any means, he found the intensity of them had begun to weaken the more he spoke with the doctor of his past. Most importantly, on at least a few of the nights their strength had not even been enough to waken him. His days were spent alone for the most part, visits from Abby the only bright spot outside the daily walks he'd begun to to take in order to rebuild his strength, and his visits with the Johannessons. With Mrs. Johannesson's doting he also found he'd begun to put on some of his lost weight, her daily care packages helping him refind the appetite he'd thought he'd lost.
The day had begun sunny, the warmth in it's rays prompting his decision to take his walk before his appointment. The distant didn't seem that far, his strength was improving daily, and if he kept a steady pace he should easily arrive on time for his 2pm visit. As he stepped onto the porch he felt the chill of the not quite spring day, but after buttoning his coat he was sure the walk would be enough to warm him up.
The sessions had so far centered mostly around his family, what his life had been like, his feelings following their deaths. They'd spoke about life after as well, his escape from Vukavar, his time in the resettlement camps. It was hard even now to think of those times, the loneliness that had been his constant companion, the pain that was a part of every day as well. They'd spoke of his decision to resume his medical career, and how difficult it had been for him, and most recently how hard it had been to leave his father and Croatia.
His pace was brisk as he began the walk, and when he shoved his hands in his pockets he barely noticed the bite in the air. They were ready to delve into more recent events and that thought sent a shiver through him that he couldn't blame on the cold. He would have to talk about Carol...about killing the mugger. That alone was enough to send yet another shiver through him, and he pulled his collar up as if that might somehow help. There would be more to talk about, Abby, the string of one-nighters, all the things he had used as a means of escape. He would have to face his failures to Rick and to Erin as well, and then, worst of all he would have to confront what had happened in the Congo.
He felt the inner fear rising as he ticked off each item, wishing he could pretend none of them existed but knowing as well he wouldn't betray the Doctor's trust by concealing them from him. None of the subjects he had left to discuss would be easy ones, all were things which had played major roles in how he had gotten to where he was now. As much as he might like to downplay some of them they were all still pieces in the puzzle and until he found a way to put them in proper perspective the nightmares would continue.
He was determined not to fall into the habits he had relied on before going to the Congo, he owed that to Patrique, to Chance and her mother. How could he devalue all they had suffered and lost by returning to how things were as if nothing had changed. He'd told Abby he had changed and he had meant it, and if that mean laying his soul bare for the doctor then he was willing to make that sacrifice, no matter how terrified the thought made him.
He paused as he realized his journey had taken him almost directly to the doctor's house, his thoughts seeming to dictate the direction he had needed to go. He paused on the front walkway and glanced at his watch...he was too early, but where could he go? He glanced up one side of the street and then the other, all too aware that it had grown colder as he'd been walking.
"Luka...is that you out there...come in before you catch your death." It was Mrs. Johannesson's voice that made the choice for him and he looked to the porch as he heard his name. "Come on now..." She held the door open, sure he would comply.
"I'm afraid I'm early...I could come back." He offered the apology as he reached the top step.
"That's not necessary..come in, I've just made some cookies, you can have some and I'll make you something hot to drink, you look near frozen."
He given up trying to turn down her offers to feed him, her manner reminisant of his Baka and the comparison brought a smile to his face. "Thank you."
"Let me take your coat, I'll hang it up while you go into the kitchen." She closed the door as she spoke then took the offered coat. "Go on now, I'll be there in a minute."
The smell of the fresh baking filled the warm kitchen andLuka's stomach responded to the scent with a low rumble. Pulling out a chair he took a seat and obligingly reached for the top cookie on the plate.
"Martin is still with his last patient...what can I get you to drink?" Ingrid was already talking as she entered the room and Luka hurridly swallowed the mouthful of cookie he was chewing so he could answer.
"Whatever you have is fine. " Luka found himself taking another bite, the comfort he felt in the woman's presence making nervous talk unnecessary.
"I'll put some tea on. How are you doing today, Luka?'" Her question left him with none of the panic he might once have felt when presented with something so simple, yet complex and he swallowed the bite before answering.
"Good." It felt strange saying that but he knew it was true, and he couldn't help believing part of that was directly attributable to the woman before him. "I actually slept in this morning, quite a change."
"I'm glad to hear that...I worry about you." She filled a cup for him and carried it over to the table before filling her own and taking the seat opposite.
"You don't have to worry about me." He let his eyes come to rest on the woman's face.
"I know, but I do. Martin and I don't have children to worry about, I think I always missed that feeling." She reached across the distance between him and patted his hand. "You don't mind the attentions of an old woman do you?"
Luka's blush was immediate and his face creased in a smile as he shook his head at her words. " I think I can get used to it. You remind me of my Baka...my grandmother." He offered the translation then dropped his eyes not sure how she would take the comparison.
"Then it is my turn to thank you, Luka. You know you are welcome here anytime, I enjoy your company." She patted his hand again then withdrew hers.
The sound of a door opening and then closing stopped any further conversation and both looked to the door as footsteps signalled Dr. Johannesson's approach. "Luka...you're here already, I hope I haven't kept you waiting long, I'm afraid we ran a bit over..."
to be continued...