A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
"So how are you today, Luka?" Dr. Johannesson closed the door of the office after the man had entered before him.
"I'm good..." It felt just as strange saying it to the doctor as it had to his wife and that thought prompted a small smile.
"Why does that strike you as funny?" He motioned Luka to the couch before taking a seat in the chair opposite.
"I don't know...I guess because it's been so long since I could say that." He took a sip of the tea he had carried in with him and then leaned forward to put the cup down. "I know we've barely gotten started, and I know things could get bad again..." His voice trailed off as he paused to wet his lips.
"How does that make you feel?" The older man read Luka's mannerisms, looking for clues to what he might be holding back.
"Scared." His honesty clearly radiated in the one word response.
"Why does it scare you?" The probing was gentle, a technique the doctor had discovered best suited the young man.
"It's hard to explain..." The nervous sweep of his tongue around the inside of his mouth preceded his continuing. "I'm afraid of the nightmares worsening, I mean, I've tried not to think about some of these things."
"Do you think that helps? Did it help with your family?"
"In the beginning it does..." Luka almost smirked as he answered.
"Then what happens?" The doctor's voice remained serious.
"I have to shut myself down...if I don't talk about it I can kind of pretend it isn't there." He wet his lips again as his mouth went dry.
"But it is still there, nothing you do can change that, Luka." It was still a gentle give and take, the trust increasing but not fully there.
"I know...it's always still there." The acceptance left the words with a hollow ring to them.
"Luka...look at me a moment." The doctor waited until the young man lifted his eyes to him before continuing. "We all have good and bad things in our lives, we've all done things we regret, it's a part of being human. No one can deny that you've had more then your share of tragedy, or that you've seen things that no one should have to see, but, you have to allow room for the good things among all the bad."
"How do I do that? If I pretend it hasn't happened...if I..." He stumbled over the words he wanted then stopped, giving himself time to catch up with the conflicting emotions he was riding. "If I don't remember what happened, it's like it isn't important anymore...it's like they're not important anymore." The words carried a shakiness he couldn't conceal.
"That isn't true, Luka...we all experience loss, it doesn't mean we have to end our own lives because of it. Cherish the good memories, allow yourself times to grieve, but you can't continue to put your life on hold, or punish yourself because you lived and your family didn't." The doctor moved his chair closer so he could lay a hand on one of Luka's. "You deserve a life, and from what you have told me of Danijela, I think she would want that for you as well." He closed his hand, offering quiet comfort as he allowed the young man to process his words.
"It feels like I'm betraying her..." His words came quiet and unsteady, and his eyes remained directed at the floor.
"What does, Luka? " The gentle prompt eased him to continue.
"If I let someone in...if I start to let myself feel something for someone else, it's like I'm betraying the vows I made to her."
"Is that how you see it?" The doctor kept his eyes firmly on Luka.
"I want to feel again..."He paused, knowing he would have to tell the man about the thing he was most ashamed of. "I needed to have someone make me feel something again." He stopped again, unable to look at the doctor for fear of reading the disgust he felt at himself in the man's eyes. "At first, I didn't think I could do it...but I felt so alone, and she was there, I didn't know what she was...then it didn't matter...after that it was easier." He swallowed, the momentum making him unable to stop. It felt so good...to have someone make me feel something besides the loneliness and not want anything from me in return. It was like a drug...and I couldn't get enough, it was so easy to get someone to go home with me...most of them I never saw again..." As quickly as the burst started it ended and Luka found himself exhausted by it.
"Luka, look at me." Dr. Johannesson waited until he had raised his eyes. "There's nothing wrong with wanting physical comfort...but it wasn'tenough was it?"
Luka shook his head. "No. After they would leave...I'd feel so dirty...I hated myself for what I was doing, but I couldn't stop myself.'
"But you did stop didn't you?"
"Not soon enough." Luka's words grew quiet again.
"What do you mean, not soon enough?" The older man leaned closer, his hand still covering his patient's.
"I was drinking...too much...it was one of the ways I could tell myself it was ok, that I didn't know what I was doing even if I did. I shouldn't have gone to work I knew I wasn't in any condition to be there, and once I was there, I couldn't make myself leave..."
to be continued...