"I've had a wonderful time, but this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx
Despite the stifling heat, Luka still found himself shivering uncontrollably, and in the silence of the tiny hut, the sound of his chattering teeth seemed almost deafening to his ears. Even in his present condition he recognized the danger of his untreated malaria, but, what could he do? There was no chance of getting the medicine he needed, and even if he could, anything he did get would need to go to his patients. Patients, patient, only one was left, Chance, the little girl and her mother were the only ones left. He had to remember. In those rare moments of awareness he found himself struggling to hold onto the details of those he knew he should be taking care of. The little girl was depending on him, and as brave a face as she managed to put forth, there were far too many times he was sure he heard her cries in the darkness.
Always thirsty. He wasn't going to make it, he was sure of it and as if to confirm that he found his moments of lucidity lessening. Even now, as Sakima tried to coax him to take a few sips of water, or even more importantly a swallow or two of the porridge, he was finding it hard to comply. Under other circumstances he would have recognized the symptoms he was exhibiting, the symptoms that he had seen far too often in the short time he had been in the Congo, but, it was too late for him.
"He's alive. Luka." Hearing Carter's voice, then Gillians seemed only to confirm how close to death he was, and he opened his eyes only to close them again without really seeing them. He hadn't expected to see them again, but, Danijela she had already begun calling him to her, and he wanted so badly to go to her, he didn't want to decide between them.
When he awoke again he knew immediately that something was different. He'd laid on that dirt floor for too many days not to notice the softness of the mattress that he now laid on, he'd breathed stale air too many days not to notice it's absence now. Even with noticing those changes he found it hard to accept that it might be real. With no one around yet to confirm things, he was sure the fever was distorting his reality, taunting him with things he could no longer have.
"You're awake." Gillian's voice was quiet as she caughthis movement on the cot. Dipping a washcloth in the basin of water at his bedside she squeezed the excess off before wiping the sweat from his face. As he seemed to actually focus on her for the first time since his arrival she couldn't help but smile.
"Hi." She issued the simple greeting as she reached for a cup of water on the table beside his bed.
"How about something to drink?" Supporting his head she coaxed him into taking several sips before replacing the cup on the table.
"Gillian?" His voice cracked from disuse.
"You're safe, Luka, Chance and Sakima are here too." She offered the information before he could ask, seeming to know what his first concerns might be.
"Patrique." He whispered the Congalese man's name quietly, needing to share the news of his sacrifice.
"We know, we brought him back with us." Gillian found herself rubbing his arm as she filled him in.
"I'm so sorry, Luka." She was finding it so hard to look at him, and she wondered if her own guilt at leaving them behind wasn't partly to blame.
"He saved my life, they all did. him, Sakima, they both were willing to put my life before theirs, how do I thank them for that?" The question was one he knew the nurse couldn't possibly have an answer for, but, he still found himself asking it.
"What happens now?" He pulled his eyes away from her as he spoke.
"You go home and get well, and you go on with your life." Gillian watched his face, sensing there was more to the question then what he had asked.
"How do I go back, how do I forget this?" His words held a touch of fear in them.
"You go back because you have to, we all do, but you never forget, and that's why we keep coming back, it's why you'll come back, even after this. Now, you need to rest." As she finished speaking Gillian offered Luka another sip of water before kissing him.
"You can't focus on this or you'll never come back, but, if you remember Chance, and the future she will have because of you, and all of those like her, those are the memories that will give you the strength you need to keep coming back. Those are the memories that keep us all coming back."