A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
As he closed and locked the door to the bathroom Luka felt his scarcely controlled composure slip, and with it a wave of emotions surged. The impact hit with a suddenness that left him unsteady and he grabbed at the sink, unsure if his legs would hold him. All of the feelings he'd hidden away, all of the memories he'd so carefully banished to the dark corners were loose within him and the fear of that left his heart racing.
Forcing himself to look at his reflection in the mirror before him Luka was shocked to see the terror in his own eyes. How was this supposed to make things better then what they were? His hold on the sink tightened until his knuckles turned white. How could Johannesson possibly think this would help him? Closing his eyes Luka struggled to slow his breathing, aware that even in the safety of the small bathroom, the panic was threatening to take hold of him.
As he opened his eyes again, it was undeniable that the nightmares that had haunted his sleep had left their mark on him as well. As much as he might protest, there was no escaping the dark circles that ringed his eyes, the lines of fatigue that etched his face. Exhaling, he released his hold long enough to plug the sink and turn the taps so he could fill the basin with water. He'd never expected it to be like this when he'd agreed to talk to the man, but the dreams were already providing proof to how well he had protected even himself from his past. At the thought he turned the faucets off and lowered his face into the water. He had been sure he hadn't remembered more then he had revealed, but, he had been wrong, the nightmares had shown him that. Lifting his head he wiped the water away only to study his reflection again. How much more was locked inside? How many more memories had he blocked?
The question was one that only increased his already blossoming fears. How much of all he had been through had he managed to hide even from himself? It was understandable that what happened in the Congo would be lost, he'd been sick, it made sense that he wouldn't remember. But, what if there were more? What if he had secreted away memories of all he had lived through during the war? What if he had somehow forgotten the small details of what had happened to Danijela and the children? That was the biggest fear, wasn't it? Those were the memories he'd relived over and over, the memories he'd used as punishment to himself for surviving when they had not. If they were wrong...
"No." He released the word aloud before he could stop himself, then looked to the door as if expecting someone to open it. He hadn't forgot. He couldn't have, not after he had sworn on their graves to keep those memories alive. Leaning forward he let his head come to rest against the mirror as he gripped the sink again. He had to remember every detail...he had to.
"Luka?" Martin Johannesson's voice broke his concentration. "Is everything all right?"
"Yeah?" He straightened and wiped a hand across his face before looking to the door, half expecting it to open even though he knew he had locked it.
"You're sure?" The man's voice on the other side was quiet, and reflected his concern.
"I'm sure." He wasn't of course...he wanted to tell that to the man. He wanted to tell him he thought he thought he was going crazy, but he wouldn't.
"My wife has asked me to tell you that breakfast is ready whenever you're done."
"I'll be down in a little while." He heard the pause, knew the man hadn't moved from the door and he heard what wasn't said. "I just need a few more minutes." A few more minutes...to try and repair the crumbling wall that had held his memories behind it. Why was it so hard to keep it in place with this man and his wife? After all these years it had become second nature, but not when he was with these two, what made them so different? Why was it so easy for them to see past it when no one else could?
"I'll see you downstairs then." He heard the retreating footfalls signal the man's departure as he finished speaking and released his own breath. What if he couldn't keep doing this? What if he simply walked away from it all? What was to stop him? He could leave now...leave this house...his job...the city...it was his choice wasn't it? He leaned into the mirror again knowing he wouldn't leave, couldn't. As much as he feared the unknown that his memories held, he feared the loneliness of starting over again more. It was time to stop running away, time to face the truths, as painful and as frightening as they might be.
Straightening, he studied his reflection in the mirror again. Somewhere inside, buried deep behind the memories was the man he had once been. The man Danijela had loved and married. The man who had fathered Jasna and Marko. He missed that part of himself more then he wanted to admit, and for too long he had thought him as dead as they were. What if there was a chance he wasn't? What if, by facing his past he could find him again? The possibility of reclaiming that missing part of himself kindled a flame of hope inside him, and he wiped at his eyes as tears threatened to break. He'd hated who he had become for so long, and if there was even the smallest hope of finding that man, how could he not try? Despite the fear of what he yet might uncover the decision to continue was made, and with that Luka found himself unable to stop the smile that found it's way to his face. He could do this...would do this, for Danijela and the children yes, but more importantly for himself.
to be continued...