A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
It would be so easy to just leave. The thought haunted Luka as the man disappeared from his sight. Didn't he know how easy it would be for him to just walk to the door and back out into the night? He wouldn't though...couldn't, and maybe that's why the doctor wasn't worried about leaving him alone.
As he glanced around the man's office he was struck by the many personal touches that decorated it. More then he even had in his apartment...what would the man say to that if he told him? He wouldn't though...couldn't. Drawing a breath Luka walked over to the window, it was deserted, the light that had lit his way up the steps no longer there. It would be so easy to lose himself in his thoughts if he remained here...but he couldn't yet bring himself to move.
"Dr. Kovac...Luka." The doctor's voice behind him...when had the man returned? As he turned to his name Dr. Johannesson was already setting the teapot and cups on the table. "Please, have a seat. Do you take milk...or perhaps sugar or lemon in your tea?" He had already begun to fill the cups and Luka sensed his question was yet another way to break the silence.
"Nothing...thank you." He didn't really want it, but as he sat he knew he would take it, if only as a way to hide the unsteadiness of his hands.
"If you change your mind feel free to help yourself." The doctor settled himself in one of the chairs and took a sip of his own tea before setting it aside to pick up a small notebook. "Now...Luka...it is all right that I call you that?"
"That's fine." He lifted his eyes from the cup with his response.
"Good...I know a little of what you have been through..."
Oh, God. Luka felt his stomach surge as the man started to speak. How much had they told him?
"I'm hoping you can help me to understand better, and perhaps together we will find a way to help you...yes?"
There was no pity in the doctor's words...maybe he didn't know the worst. Maybe he hadn't been told everything. "I'm not sure what there is to tell."
"Luka...I know from Gillian that there have been nightmares. I know too that you were very ill...and that you saw things no one should have to see." He let his eyes register the effect of his words on the young man before him.
"I don't know what that has to do with my going back to work." If only he didn't feel like the man's eyes were seeing inside him.
"Don't you? I think maybe you do. Tell me about yourself, Luka?" The doctor held his pen poised over his notebook with the question.
"There's nothing to tell... I'm an Attending at County General." That was who he was, all he was...there wasn't anything else to say.
"That's all? Do you have family...friends..a pet? Do you have any hobbies? I know you are not from the United States...where do you come from? Tell me who Luka Kovac is?" It was hard to know how much he could do. How far was too far to push him. That he was afraid of saying too much was obvious. It would take time to get him to open up. Time to get him to talk about more then the very basic parts of his life. Even this early he could see that the young doctor was not one to wear his heart on his sleeve. Not one to let people too close, and certainly not inside.
Luka wet his lips and dropped his eyes to the cooling cup...why had he done this? The man seemed willing to wait for him to say something....but what was he supposed to say? His questions...he could start with those...he wouldn't be saying too much if he simply answered the questions. "I'm from Croatia..." He wet his lips again as he began to speak. "My Tata...father." He corrected the slip as he caught the hint of a smile touch the older man's face. "My father is still there...in Zagreb."
"Do you miss Croatia?" The question came easily as he heard something in the man's words.
"No..." He did though...sometimes so much that it hurt. "Yes...it's not the same here."
"Then why do you stay?" The doctor's question was one he had asked himself too many times, but also one he knew he couldn't answer...not yet, maybe never.
"I have a job here." That was a safe reply. Luka lifted the cup and took a sip, wishing the cup held something stronger then tea.
"I think maybe that's too easy of an answer." There was a hint of humor in Dr. Johannssen's voice. "But, perhaps you are not ready for me to know that, we can talk of it later. Your friend, Gillian is very worried about you...and I think she cares very much for you." Better to let him know what he did know instead.
"I know..." The tea had left a bitter taste in his mouth and Luka leaned over to sit it back on the tray. "I told her not to."
"Not to what, Luka? Not to worry, or not to care for you?" The question was a risky one, he knew that the minute he asked it and saw the flash of fear across the other man's face.
The words couldn't have struck any harder had they come as a punch to his stomach. "I tried to tell her."
"Tried to tell her what, Luka?" He had to get the doctor to open up to him, but how far could he push him before he went too far?
"What does it matter? She went home, she's gone now." That was it wasn't it? Gillian was gone just like everyone else and he was back to being alone.
"I think it matters to you. I think it matters more then you want to admit even to yourself." Dr. Johannesson kept his eyes on Luka as he spoke and he saw the confirmation in the other man's eyes before he dropped them to his hands. This wasn't going to be easy...there was far more here then what Gillian of the hospital records had told him. "It's okay for you to talk to me, Luka. Whatever you say remains only between the two of us."
"Does it?" The question came quietly, the distrust in the words.
"Yes, it does. I will have to give your superiors my opinions on your fitness for work, but whatever you say to me remains in strictest confidence. I give you my word."
How could he believe him? How could he believe anyone? What had he done? If only he hadn't made the call...
to be continued...