Saturday, July 23, 2005

Healing 3/30

Chapter 3

A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes

Luka folded his arms around himself as he waited at the bottom of his steps for the cab.  It wasn't too late to cancel...wasn't too late to pretend he'd never made the call.  But he had made the a moment of weakness he had taken a step that he had regretted from the moment it had been made.  He shifted his weight restlessly from foot to foot, aware of the chill seeping into his bones even as he did it.  Maybe the cab would forget they were supposed to pick him up.  Maybe they wouldn't be able to find the address.  He found himself glancing first one direction then the other, then felt his stomach clench as the headlights of a car rounded the corner.  So much for maybes...he started towards the cab as it pulled up to the curb.

Once inside he gave the driver the address then sank into the corner of the backseat, feigning sleep rather then having to engage in the idle conversation he knew would come next.  He couldn't really sleep here was too risky to sleep anywhere that people might hear him if the dreams came.  If they came...he almost laughed at the thought.  They always came now...worse then the ones of Vukovar if that were possible. 
He'd always thought that nothing could be worse then those dreams...those nightmares.  Reliving the past over and over again.  Enduring the deaths of your family in your sleeping hours as well as those you were awake.  If only he had known how much worse they could be.  He shivered at the thought and felt the edge of panic rising.  He'd finally managed to find a way not to let those nightmares control his life and then this had happened and like a scab pulled loose, they were back.  Back to twist themselves among the new ones that now haunted his sleep until he thought he would never find a moment's peace.

"Are you all right?"  He heard the question before he realized the groan had escaped him.  Opening his eyes he was suddenly all too aware of the driver watching him.

"Yeah...sorry." Luka brushed his hand across his face as he sat up straighter.

"You sure?"  The driver continued to watch him, looking for the signs of drug or alcohol on his fare.

"I said I was, look, don't worry about it."  The words held a bite he hadn't intended for them to have and the man returned his eyes to the road, whatever else he said lost to the night.

Another fifteen minutes and the driver pulled to the curb in a quiet semi-residential neighborhood.  "This is it, that'll be $9.50." 

Pulling his wallet from his pocket Luka leaned forward to slide a twenty towards him.  "Keep the change..."  He opened the door and started to get out, only to lean in again.  "Look, I'm sorry..."  How much more did he owe the man?  He found himself shaking his head without saying anymore then withdrew and slammed the door behind him.

The neighborhood was neither rich nor poor, homes, mostly brick, shared space with offices.  The porchlight sent a wash of gold down the steps and Luka was sure the doctor was aware he had arrived...if only he could get his feet to move.  Closing his eyes Luka drew a calming breath, forcing the earlier panic farther from his consciousness.  He could do this...he had to.

"Dr. Kovac?"  He heard his name before he was aware that the door at the top of the stairs had opened.  "Please..come in, it's too cold to be standing on the sidewalk." The doctor kept his tone social, acting as if it was nothing unusual to be meeting someone for an appointment at four in the morning.

The choice was out of his hands now and drawing yet a deeper breath, Luka resolved himself to the inevitable.  "I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long."  He offered the apology as if that would excuse everything.

"No, not at all." The doctor ushered him inside then closed the door behind them.  "Let me take your coat, I've put some tea on as well, why don't you have a seat in my office and I'll bring it in."

It was easier to do as the man asked rather then think for himself and Luka shrugged out of his coat before handing it over.  "Thank you."

"You're go have a seat, I won't be more then a few minutes."  Dr. Johannesson offered a comforting smile as he read the younger man's wariness in his actions.  He'd have to take things slow, that much was obvious, his patient acted like a deer caught in headlights, torn between standing his ground and running.  He offered Luka a second smile as he moved towards the room and a moment later disappeared down the hallway towards the kitchen.

to be continued...

No comments: