A follow-up to the Congo arc, this story interweaves with the actually aired episodes
The days were growing warmer, and there was no denying that spring would soon be here. He'd begun to look forward to the mornings he was spending in the garden with Ingrid as much as he did the afternoon sessions with her husband. Sitting now, alone, on the patio he no longer found the gloom of his past stealing the mood from him. When was the last time he felt so at ease? No, not at ease, it was more then that, for the first time since he'd lost his family he could admit to being at peace with himself. Despite all that had surfaced in the daily sessions with the doctor. Despite the pain he'd been forced to relive. Despite the horrors he'd revisited. Yes, despite all those things, he could still say he was at peace with them.
Luka shook his head, disbelief still lingering. All of the years he had wasted because he wouldn't, no, not wouldn't, because he couldn't bear to face so much of his life. All of the things he'd suppressed so deeply that even he had forgotten they existed. Sure there were lapses, how could there not be? Even he knew those were to be expected, the difference now was that they no longer caused him to withdraw, to retreat into himself, or worse, to run away.
Leaning back into the patio chair Luka squinted up into the early afternoon sun. He wasn't running anymore. He wasn't hiding. Most importantly, for the first time in far too long he wasn't afraid of his past. Lifting his hand he fingered the crucifix Chance's mother had given him. For so long he had thought his faith gone but he could no longer deny the signs of it's strength in him anymore then he could fail to recognize those people who had shown him the way back to it. Some, like the Bishop, he'd resisted at first, but in the end he knew he had loved the man and his death had left a void he'd thought impossible to fill. Other's like Chance and her mother had caught him unaware, angels in the midst of carnage.
He found himself smiling at the reminders, a smile that came much easier now. Lastly there was the Johannessons, Martin and Ingrid. The couple had welcomed him into their home, embraced him as if he had always been part of their lives, and in turn he had found room in his heart for them. He would never know the point at which it happened. That one moment when he felt the one thing he had never thought to feel again. Through the couple he had regained the hardest thing he had lost, the one thing that had been missing for too long, a sense of family.
Even that seemed unreal in retrospect, he had a family, his father, uncles, aunts, but they were so far away and the Johannessons were here. He'd run away for so long, afraid to see in the faces of those he loved, what he least wanted to see. He couldn't blame them, they shared his losses, but that didn't make the looks any less painful to endure. There was more to it though, in truth, he'd been afraid to let anyone close enough to see what he felt he needed to hide. Afraid that if they learned those truths it would only further define the man he'd become, the man he no longer wished to be. The Johannessons had seen that man, little by little over the past months they had peeled away the layers and cast them aside. Through them he had revealed to himself aspects of his own personality that he'd been unable to face himself.
"Luka, lunch will be ready in about fifteen minutes, wash up now, and don't track mud on my clean floor when you come in." Ingrid Johannesson's voice interrupted his thoughts and he glanced to the door in response.
"Be right in." The journey wasn't over, even he knew that. It had taken twelve years to reach the place that had led him to the couple. For the first time in all those years though, he saw an end to it, and at that end, hope. Luka found a chuckle bubbling up inside him. His life hadn't ended with Danijela and the children, he knew that now. He'd believed the lie because he had need it to survive at the time. How else could he have endured their losses? He'd had to blame himself, had to blame God, because it was all he could do at the time. No more.
Rising he let his eyes move across the garden, all he had lived through, all the losses, the people that had entered and left his life, they were the reason he was here. Without them, without all of them he wouldn't exist, they had shaped him into the man he was now. How could he have ever imagined that he could feel grateful for having lived through such tragedy? He touched the crucifix again and found his gaze drawn to the sky, they were always with him, he knew that now as well, and in that he found the deepest truth. One day they would reunite, and until that day he would live his life to the fullest, with no regrets, and that in itself gave him the greatest peace of all.