'Rog?' Lukas wrapped a knuckle against the door of the garage. 'Do you have a minute?
'All the time in the world, for my, not-quite-brother-in-law.' Roger's head appeared from beneath the front bumper of the little sports car. Lukas offered a hand to him, to help him up, but Roger declined with a smile, holding up hands that were black and grease-stained. 'Give me a moment to clean up.'
With an agility that was surprising for a man of his build, Roger pushed himself free of the car, and climbed to his feet. Easing his way through and around the cluttered space, he angled towards the small sink in the corner.
Lukas studied the large man as he moved, and wondered, not for the first time, whether his sister's relationship with Roger Bennet was a natural circumstance. The man was a natural; ideally suited for the task of protecting Helen and, by extension, MacKenzie and himself.
An ex-army engineer, Roger Bennet was both resourceful and tough; Lukas had seen him take a rifle bullet to the shoulder the previous year, during the affair with David Jackinson. Despite the wound, Bennet had managed to drag Lukas to safety, and protect the three of them from the panicked crowds that had threatened to trample them, while they had dealt with the larger threat of the Outrunners, and Jackinson. His devotion to Helen was as obvious as his careful attention to detail in all that he turned his mind to. Helen, of course, adored him. And, Lukas, even after knowing him for such a comparatively short time, now counted Roger Bennet as probably the best friend he had ever known; he knew MacKenzie felt the same.
Had Mentor been instrumental in bringing Bennet into their lives? Lukas was reluctant to ask Mentor, in case it upset Helen, yet he suspected as much; the man was exactly the sort of person he would have wanted, for his sister. He was the fourth member of their group; that made their triumvirate a quartet. Mentor had manipulated the natural order of the world, in order to bring Helen, MacKenzie and himself together in an attempt to defeat the Al'urion; was it so far-fetched, to imagine that Bennet was also destined to be part of the group. Whenever the three of them were away, combined mentally to form the Nexus, their physical bodies were vulnerable. It was more than a little reassuring to know that there was somebody as capable and steadfast as Bennet willing to watch over them, and protect them.
'Okay,' Lukas' thoughts were pulled back to the present, 'what can I do for you?'
Bennet was walking towards him, wiping his hands on a towel. Lukas shrugged and grimaced, as he realized he had no idea how to begin. 'I, uh; it's...delicate.' Bennet studied him for a moment, before placing a comforting arm across the medium's shoulder.
'How about a glass of something warming?' He turned Lukas towards the house. 'We're neither of us driving again today, and I think you could do with something bracing. Then we can talk.'
'Thanks, Roger.' Lukas allowed himself to be steered towards the house. 'You know, I don't think I've ever told you, how much I appreciate having you around. Especially when we're, you know, away from our bodies. And for not asking too many questions; that I can't answer easily.'
'It's no problem.' Roger gave Lukas's shoulder a squeeze. 'Helen's told me what I need to know, as best as she's able. I realize how important this thing, whatever you do, is; especially if we all want to go on living on this crazy little planet of ours. For what it's worth, Lukas, I think this Mentor character chose well, when he picked you and Helen - and MacKenzie as well, of course.' Roger glanced almost shyly at Lukas, as if embarrassed.
'I don't have any family of my own.' He said. 'I was adopted, and both of my adopted parents died, when I was young. Car crash. It's the reason I joined the army in the first place.'
'I didn't know.' Lukas replied softly. 'Sorry, Roger; it must have been hard.'
'It was a long time ago.' Roger shrugged. 'My point is, relationships have never been easy for me. I think I get too scared to get close to anybody; I'm scared that I'm going to lose them, like I lost my parents. Then I met Helen,' He laughed. 'I'll tell you, Lukas; it took me a long time, to get up the courage to ask her out - and look what happened.'
Lukas nodded. The date in question, had been the concert in Williamson park, when David Jackinson had killed thirty-five people and injured countless others, before the Nexus had destroyed both him and the Outrunners controlling him. 'Yeah,' he joined Bennet's laughter. 'That was some date.'
'It was eventful.' Bennet agreed. 'Anyway, what I'm getting at, is that, until I met Helen, I only had myself to worry about. Then Helen came into my life, and you and MacKenzie. And I couldn't have been happier. You guys have been like the family I never had.' Bennet looked abashed. 'I know it sounds clichéd, like in those old films - but it's the way I feel.'
'We feel the same way, Roger.' Lukas told him seriously. 'Both MacKenzie and myself; we love you like a brother. Helen's probably already told you, but we lost our parents at a fairly young age, as well, and MacKenzie grew up in foster homes. It seems we have a fair bit in common.'
'And why is that, exactly?' His inner self wondered. Was it another example of Mentor's manipulation of bloodlines?
'I didn't know,' Roger was saying, 'about MacKenzie, I mean. I knew about Helen's parents - and yours, of course.' He reached out, and pushed at the back door. 'So; I'm glad we've had this talk, Lukas.'
'Me too.' Lukas grinned. 'but that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about.'
'I know.' Roger agreed. 'But it's about time we had that conversation. I just wanted you to know that you can rely on me; whatever the problem.'
'I think I've always known that, Rog.' Lukas allowed his widely beaming friend to precede him into the kitchen.
Several minutes later, both men were seated comfortably in Rogers study. Bennet reached towards a nearby disc player and, moments later, soft, classical music drifted down into the study, from speakers concealed somewhere above them, behind the wooden paneled ceiling.
'That's nice.' Lukas raised his whiskey tumbler in a toast. 'Vivaldi. Four Seasons?' Bennet nodded, and Lukas laughed. 'I'm surprised. You don't strike me as the classical music type.'
'Classical music helps me think.' Roger told him. 'When I'm working with my hands, I'm more the classic rock type of guy. Eagles; Asia; that type of thing. So, want to tell me what's bothering you?'
'I suppose.' Lukas sipped at his whiskey. 'It's something Joan told me.' He recounted his conversation with the clairaudient's spirit, leaving out nothing of importance.