A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
"You didn't answer me, Luka. Why is it so hard for you to believe that someone cares about you enough to not want you to be alone? Dr. Johannesson found himself repeating the question after a long moment of silence hung in the room.
The question stung even more with the second asking and Luka came to his feet as the need to flee surfaced. As much as he wanted to believe the man, the distrust lingered. He'd tried letting people close...he'd even tried revealing pieces of his past. What good had it done?
"Where will you run to this time, Luka?" Martin followed the younger man's movements with his eyes but made no attempt to rise and stop him.
That was the question wasn't it? Where would he go? Where could he go? He drug his fingers through his hair as his eyes darted between the door and the window, then in the end remained where he stood.
Watching the young man before him, the doctor found himself making comparisons between a deer on a highway and his patient. Did he retreat from the danger? Did he continue as he was and face possible death? Maybe he simply stood his ground, hoping that in his immobility he might somehow escape notice completely. "Luka, you've tried handling this alone, it hasn't worked, you've said so yourself, let me help you."
"I can't keep doing this." His frustration left his words thickly coated in his native accent.
"Yes, you can. Luka, you're stronger than you're ready to admit, you've had to be to survive all you've been through, but it's time you let someone help you. You don't have to carry this weight alone anymore." Martin slowly rose before reaching across the distance that separated them to clasp the younger man's shoulder. "Look ahead, look at all you've accomplished. Luka, you can't keep letting your past control you, you can't continue to see every mistake you make as some kind of punishment. You're human, and you're no different from anyone else. Yes, you've lived through things most people can't even imagine, but you did live, and you have to stop seeing that survival as some kind of a punishment as well." Dr. Johannesson had felt the young doctor tense under his hand, then relax again as the words registered with him.
Luka swept his eyes over the man before him, if only he could tell him how badly he wanted to believe him. If only he could tell him what it had felt like to be alone for so many years, what it was like to leave your family and homeland because it was even more painful to face them everyday and know what you had lost. If only he could tell the man of the tentative steps he had taken as he tried to allow someone into his heart, and what a failure it had been. If only he could tell him how he had finally given up that hope and instead had surrendered to the casual affairs and one night stands that had almost destroyed him, but had allowed him to feel if only for one night. How could he reveal all of that knowing how the man would see him when he was done?
"What is it, Luka? What are you afraid of? You told me yourself that talking about this was helping, what's changed?" The man probed gently, watching the younger man for clues while all the while maintaining the hold on his shoulder.
"Nothing....everything, I don't know." Why did this have to be so hard? Why couldn't he just tell the man what he wanted to hear? He drug his hand back through his hair again as he looked first to the window then back to the older man.
"Luka, talk to me...tell me what's changed." Martin kept his tone unhurried and quiet, hoping it would coax the younger man to take that next step.
How could he make him understand? How could he make anyone understand what it was like? Luka clenched his hands into fists as he fought for the words to answer. "It's all coming back...don't you understand? Before, I could shut it away...pretend I wasn't any different then anyone else. I mean, I knew I wasn't like them, but I was never anywhere long enough for it to matter..." His voice trailed off, the burst of energy gone as quickly as it had surfaced.
"Is that it? You're telling me that you think if you don't let anyone close it will make them see you differently? That somehow all that you have gone through, all you have survived, Luka. All of those things that shaped you into the man standing here now, the man that we see when we look at you, will make you someone different if we're allowed to really understand?"
"I don't know...maybe. I don't want people to feel sorry for me..." He paused, only to release a heavy sigh. "I've been through that...had people look at me like I was someone who needed their pity...or worse, that I was someone who was going to break into little pieces."
"So, it's better that only you feel sorry for yourself, that's what you're saying, isn't it?" Martin eased into the question gently. "Why don't you sit back down, Luka?"
Why did this all have to be so exhausting? Without giving it a second thought, Luka found himself complying with the doctor's request, then once seated he rubbed at his eyes. "It's just easier to not say anything."
"You mean to keep everyone outside the walls you're built around yourself don't you? Luka, I've seen this before and I hate to break it to you but it doesn't work. The time will come when you'll meet someone who you want to let in, you may not think it's possible now, but it'll happen, then what will you do?" The doctor retook his own seat as he spoke.
"I don't know..." His frustration was growing, frustration at the rules he had set for himself, frustration at himself for having to be who he was. Why couldn't he be normal like everyone else?
"That's all right, Luka." Dr. Johannesson correctly read the signs and brought the conversation towards closure. Now, I brought you some clean clothes, let me show you where the bathroom is, you can shower if you like, and change, and then we'll see what Ingrid has in the kitchen." He offered Luka a smile before rising. "We'll work it out, you'll see, it's just going to take some time."
"Yeah..." Luka found it impossible to put any enthusiasm into his response. "It's not going to be easy is it?" The question came as an afterthought as he rose.
"No, I'm afraid not, but don't worry, I'll be here for as long as it takes, I give you my word." The doctor reached over to grasp Luka's shoulder again. "You don't have to do this alone anymore."
to be continued...