A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
With the mention of Patrique, the memory of his death filled Luka's thoughts. Why had the man sacrificed his own life to save him? What had made his life so much more valuable then his own? Why hadn't he left while he had the chance? Why hadn't they all left? He squeezed his eyes shut in an attempt to will the questions and the memories that prompted them away only to have to force them open as the doctor spoke.
"Tell me about Patrique, Luka." Dr. Johannesson's eyes moved slowly over the man in front of him, taking in the nervous ticks as well as the loss of color in his face. "Tell me why you think it's your fault that he's dead."
"Because it was...it is." The response came out harsher then he intended and he dropped his eyes, unwilling to see the older man's reaction.
"Tell me about it, Luka." He had to get him past the guilt...if he was successful with nothing else he had to be successful at that.
As much as he wanted to trust the man, Luka still found it hard to talk about what had happened. He'd been able to use the excuse of his illness in the Congo when they'd asked. He didn't remember, why should they doubt him? But he had remembered, more then he'd wanted to, and that was far worse then the not knowing.
"Luka..." The doctor watched the battle within his patient rage...how long could he let him continue before he had to give up and accept defeat? "Tell me about Patrique."
"He stayed because of me..." A long exhale punctuated the words. "I wouldn't leave my patients so he stayed. We knew the Mai Mai were close, but I couldn't leave my patients." Luka lifted a hand only to wipe it over his face before continuing. "It wasn't so bad at first...there were just a few patients left. Then I started to get sick..."
"The malaria." Dr. Johannesson filled the confirming detail in for himself.
"Yes...at first I just told them I was tired...but Patrique knew it was more. He wanted me to take the quinine, but my patients needed it more and I refused. Then we got word the rebels were moving in, we left with almost nothing and ran into the fields to hide. My fever was getting worse, Patrique kept telling me I needed the quinine, but I had a little boy who needed it more. I just wanted to sleep..." The need to flee prompted him to get to his feet, and he nervously began to pace the room, unable to stop himself from talking even though he wanted to. "It had rained all night, but I was too tired to care, then the next morning when Patrique woke me...they had all left, all but Chance and her mother, and Patrique. The rest of them knew..it wasn't safe for them to be found with me..."
The doctor watched the man pace the room like a caged animal, unable to remain in one place more then a few seconds. They were on a precipice...if he stopped him now Luka might very well retreat back into himself, all he could do was be there, let him get the words out while he could.
"I told them to leave...all of them...but they wouldn't listen to me." His voice rose, anguish flavoring the words as his guilt took a firmer hold on him. " Patrique started the quinine...he knew with the boy gone I wouldn't refuse it. I thought it would be safe to go back...I told them it would be safe...but it wasn't..oh, God...I didn't know they would still be there." The words thickened as he was unable to keep his accent under control. "They were still there...I had told them it would be safe, but it wasn't." He clenched his fists so tightly that he felt his nails bite into his palms.
"Luka...you couldn't have known." The doctor rose and approached the man.
"No...don't..." He raised his hands to ward off the advance before backing away. He was going to be sick.. "They believed me..."
"You couldn't have known, Luka, they had the choice to go, you can't blame yourself because they stayed." It was all the older man could do to hold his ground as he spoke. "What happened when you got back?"
"I tried to talk to them...but my fever...I didn't even know what I was doing...one of them hit me...I remember waking up as they were tying my wrists..." He rubbed his wrist as he spoke, feeling the tightness as if they were still bound. "I could hear the screams from Chance and her mother...oh, God...why hadn't they gone?" His breathing became more rapid as he spoke. "The kept shouting at us...they wanted us to kneel...to keep our hands on our heads...I couldn't...when I'd fall they were always there...screaming at me...kicking me until I got up again." He was sure he was going to collapse, as the burst of energy that had allowed him to get the words out disappeared as suddenly as it appeared.
"Luka...you need to sit down..." Dr. Johannesson, approached and cautiously reached out to touch the young man's arm as he spoke.
"Don't." Luka pulled out of his grip, only to stagger as the sudden action knocked him off balance.
"Luka...listen to me...you need to sit down. The doctor kept his voice firm as he repeated the direction, but did not touch him again.
"They would have been safe it they had left." As he spoke, Luka wrapped his arms around himself and for the first time since he'd begun to talk actually seemed to be looking at the doctor.
"You don't know that, Luka...but it was their choice to stay. You can't blame yourself for what happened to any of them." As he spoke Martin moved closer, then cautiously took hold of the man's arm. "You need to sit down, let me help you."
Finally, too tired to protest, Luka allowed the older man to lead him back to the couch. The gates were open now, the memories unleashed, he would have to face them all before he could seal them away again. The thought scared him more then he wanted to admit and without asking he knew the doctor understood that as well.
to be continued...