A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
Why did it all have to be so hard? As he heard the door close, signaling the doctor's exit Luka opened his eyes. He had known that it wouldn't be easy facing all the mistakes he'd made, but he'd never thought it would be like this. The thought brought on a fresh bout of chills and he leaned forward before pulling the afghan more tightly around himself. He'd been afraid to look at the doctor, afraid that he would see in his face the same things he felt about himself, and that would be far worse then anything else.
How long had it been since he had worried about how others might see him? Too long...the realization was a painful one to admit. It had used to matter, when he'd spent time with Carol, even with Abby, but then he'd begun to self-destruct, as if he didn't deserve to be happy. He'd been aware of the rumors about his behavior at the hospital, how could he not have noticed, worse, how could he have not expected them? He'd changed, and not for the better, self punishment for allowing himself to think he deserved to move on with his life.
"Luka?" He lifted his head as the door eased open and he heard the doctor's voice. "Ready to continue?"
The inner battle reared it's head, he could stop now if he chose to, the man wouldn't push him farther in a session then he was willing to go, but what was the point in hiding from the truth anymore? "I think so." The words lacked conviction but they were honest and as he spoke he sat up, meeting the man's eyes despite the fear of what he might see in them.
As he fully entered the room the doctor moved over to switch the light back on.
"Could you leave it off?" The need to hide was too strong to ignore and the lamp seemed to offer a manageable compromise if he was going to go on.
"If that's what you want." Dr. Johannesson let his hand drop and returned to take the chair he'd left earlier. "How are you feeling, Luka?" He swept his eyes over the man in front of him with the question.
He shook his head, "I don't know." If he could only stop shivering, he drew the afghan tighter.
"Don't you?" Gentle coaxing came with the question.
"I can't get warm." There was a hint of panic in Luka's words that prompted the doctor to rise and retrieve the second afghan.
"You have to let the feelings out, Luka...I know it's hard, but it's the only way." He draped the blanket around the younger man's shoulders before taking a seat on the couch beside him. "You hid from this too long, it's time to confront it."
"What if I can't?" The chattering of his teeth seemed deafening.
"Luka, trust yourself...you're stronger then you think." Despite the difficulty the doctor resisted the urge to touch the man before him. He had to let him take this step alone, no matter how hard it was.
The room fell to silence for several long moments as Luka dropped his eyes to the floor, the war going on inside him all to clear. "I hate myself...what I've become." The words came so quietly the doctor found himself struggling to hear them.
"It's not too late to change, Luka, your coming here proves you want that." He took in the younger man's appearance, the fear at the worst impossible for him to hide any longer. "You have the chance to start over, not many people can say that."
"What if I can't be anyone else?"
"I don't think you really want to be someone else, do you? You are who you are, Luka, you've made mistakes like all of us have, but you can't continue to dwell on them. Acknowledge that you made them and then let them go, don't keep punishing yourself with them."
"You make it sound so easy...it's not..." He stopped himself as his tone rose to include more of the frustration he found in the situation.
"I never said it would be easy, Luka. You've had, what, ten years to become who you are now? Why do you think you can undo it overnight?"
"I don't..." Even as he said it he knew it was a lie, he did want a quick fix, the magic pill that would make all he had done disappear.
"I think you do, we all want that, but it's not going to happen, as much as we want it to." As Luka huddled into himself the doctor reached over and lay a hand on his shoulder. "Give it time, Luka...it'll come."
"How can you be so sure? What if this is how I'll always be?" The words held the unsteadiness of the fear he was feeling despite his efforts to control it.
"Because I know, and I believe that within you have the strength to let it happen if you want it to." With the words he tightened his hold on the younger man's shoulder, letting his touch do what his words had begun. "You don't have to do it alone, Luka, I'll be here for you as long as it takes."
Whether that alone was what he had been waiting for Luka would never know, but at the man's words he felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He wasn't alone anymore unless he wanted to be and that had always been his strongest fear among all the others.
to be continued...