"You're far too thin; you should eat more.' Helen said to Lukas. He smiled, and lifted his coffee cup.
"There's plenty of calories for me in one of these, thank you.' He sipped at the foamy top, before licking his lips extravagantly. Helen frowned.
"Funny man.' She glared at her brother, who gave himself a milk mustache before waggling his eyebrows at her. After a moment, and despite her best efforts not to, she caught a sudden fit of giggles.
"Seriously Lukey,' she managed at last, and between giggles. "You've been here for four days now, and I don't think I've seen you eat enough to keep a mouse alive.' She caught his eye. "And a small mouse, at that.' She added.
"Hospital food does that to you; and I hate cheese.' Lukas responded brightly. Helen didn't answer. She just glared a little more, until her brother caved. He raised his hands in mock surrender.
"Okay, right. I'm sorry. It's just that I don't seem to have much of an appetite at the moment.' He rose from his seat. "I'll go and make a couple of pieces of toast.' Lukas moved towards the bread bin. "Look,' He said, as he sidled casually across the floor. "This is me, going to make toast.'
"Good.' Helens voice remained neutral. She watched as he placed a slice of bread into her small toaster. She waited until the bread had popped, and Lukas was spreading the barest amount of butter, before speaking.
"I've booked some indefinite leave from work.' She said. Lukas paused for a moment, then continued scraping the knife across his toast.
"You didn't have to do that.' He said softly. "I'm a big boy. I can look after myself.'
"I didn't say that you couldn't.' Helen studied her brothers back; saw the sudden tensing of muscle. She rose, and moved over to stand next to him, her back to the units. "Look Lukey,' she leant back a little, to better see Lukas's face. "It's tearing me up, seeing you like this.'
"Her brother refused to meet her eyes. "I'm fine.'
"No; you're not.' She threw him a look of exasperation. "You think I haven't noticed; but I've seen the way you drift about aimlessly, lost without your ability.'
"I don't..,' Lukas began. Helen cut him off with a finger to his lips.
"Yes;' she told him firmly. "You do. You wander around like one of those zombie things on television. You hardly say a word, unless it's dragged out of you, and even then you have all the emotion of a housewife on valium. You gaze into space for hours on end, and it doesn't take a genius to work what's on your mind. And I've heard you up and moving around, at all hours of the night.' She moved her finger, and ran her hand along the line of his jaw.
"Lukey,' she gazed into his downcast face, trying to gage the reaction to her words. "This is me speaking; your big sister. Your twin.'
Lukas raised his eyes slowly, until his eyes met his twins. Then he sighed, releasing a large pent-up breath.
"Am I that obvious?' He sighed. Helen smiled, and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"Only to me.' She told him. She smiled into his face. "I probably know you better than you do, you dope.'
"Yeah.' Lukas nibbled at the edge of his toast. "Probably.' He pushed himself away from the units, and headed back to the table. Helen followed.
"Maybe I have been a little down lately.' He said, as they seated themselves. Helen snorted, and poured more coffee.
"Maybe.' Was all she said. Lukas pretended to ignore the interruption. He gazed into the depths of his mug, the toast forgotten.
"You're right.' He said finally. "I should have known better than to try and fool you, of all people.'
Lukas smiled. "Yeah, well; I suppose I didn't want you to worry. I told you everything.' He said quickly, in response to the look on his sister's face. "I just didn't..,' He shrugged. "I made it sound not quite as bad as it feels.' He finished. "You're right; I'm not sleeping well.' He snorted softly. "Hellfire; I'm lucky if I get more than two hours a night.'
"Maybe you should get yourself back to the hospital; or at least, to a doctor.' Helen said. Lukas shook his head.
"No; not unless absolutely necessary.' He said emphatically. "I'm sick of being poked and prodded by the medical profession, like some weird new specimen of bacteria.'
"Weird,' His sister mused. "Well that bit's right anyway.' She smiled sweetly at her brother. Lukas grimaced.
"Whatever; the point is, I'm not going, and that's that. Anyway,' He went on. "Whatever the reason, I don't seem to need the sleep. At least,' he amended. "Not as much. I seem to be able to function perfectly on a couple of hours a night. And I never did seem to need as much as you, even when we were kids. I remember,' He smiled softly. "The problems mum had, trying to get you up for school.'
"Yeah,' Helen smiled back. "I was a terror, wasn't I?' She shook her head. "Stop trying to change the subject.'
"I wouldn't dare.' Lukas held up a hand. "But, as I said; considering the sleep I am getting, I'm fine. And, this has happened ever since the accident. I'm actually beginning to wonder if the lack of sleep is connected with the loss of my talent.'
"Whatever the reason, I'm taking some time off, and spending it with my little brother.' She stared at him; daring him to object. Lukas knew when he was beaten.
"That would be nice.' He smiled with genuine warmth.
"And I think that you had better talk to your agent.' Lukas' smile vanished as if switched off. He slumped in his chair.
"I mean it.' Helen sipped at her coffee to hide the smile. "It's only fair that the poor woman know. You can invite her here, if you want.'
Lukas jerked back upright. "God no!' He shuddered theatrically. "I'll think of somewhere neutral to meet.' He thought for a moment. "Somewhere neutral, and public.' He amended. "Just in case.'
"Coward.' Helen laughed. Lukas tried an intimidating stare, that failed completely, to upset his sister.
"You've never met the woman.' He told her. "At least, if we're somewhere public, she'll have to restrain herself.' He shrugged helplessly. "At least, I hope so.'
Just then Lukas froze, his attention caught by something over his sisters shoulder. Wordlessly, he sprang to his feet and hurried round the table. Helens eyes followed him as he stretched forwards, over the drainer, and peered out of the small window that overlooked the garden.
"What is it?' Helen rose to her feet. She turned, standing behind Lukas and attempting to peer over his shoulder. "What's wrong?'
Lukas did not answer straight away. He stared intently through the window, his eyes raking the garden beyond.
Just as Helen was about to grab him by the collar and drag him away, Lukas eased himself back onto his heels. He sagged slightly, a bemused expression replacing the alert tension on his face. Lifting a hand, he pressed a thumb and index finger against the sides of his eyes.
"Lukey; will you talk to me?' The exasperation thrummed through Helen's voice.
"I thought..,' Lukas glanced out of the window again for a second or so, then away. "I thought I saw..,' He shook his head, bemused. Again and again his eyes darted towards the window.
"Saw what? For god's sake, Lukey, if you don't talk to me, so help me, I'll..,' Helen trailed off, bending slightly, as she attempted to catch her brother's eye.
Finally, Lukas seemed to pull himself together. He dragged his attention away from the window, and looked into the concerned face of his sister.
"I thought.., I saw a ghost.' He said simply.
Helen sagged slightly, the relief evident in her face. "Is that all?' she asked, without thinking. Her eyes widened slightly, as she realized what she had said. "Oh; oh Lukey, I didn't mean it that way. I'm so sorry.'
"Don't worry, sis.' Lukas smiled slightly. "I know what you meant. It's just that, for a second or so, I thought that my talent had reappeared.' He shook his head slightly. "I must have been mad.'
"Don't you ever think that.' Helen told him. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with missing something, and wanting it back. Besides,' she added slyly. "I'd miss all the weirdness.'
"Yeah,' Lukas' lips quirked. "Thanks sis; I think.' He took a final, lingering, glance out of the window.
"What did it look like?' Helens query cut across his thoughts. "The ghost, I mean.'
"I'm not too sure; I'm not even certain that it was a ghost, or anything at all.' Lukas returned to the table, and his lukewarm coffee. "It was just a shadow; seen from the corner of my eye. I was..,' He paused, thinking; trying to visualize what he had seen. After several long seconds, he said. "It was totally black; almost a solid shape. Now I think about it, it was unlike anything I've ever seen.' He paused. "Maybe it was just a shadow, after all.' He finished. "After all, I don't sense anything, so I don't see how it could be anything else.'
Helen shrugged. "Maybe.' She paused, unsure how to continue. She brightened suddenly. "How about we go into the city?' She suggested. Lukas looked uncertain. "Look,' she continued. "If nothing else, it'll prove to you whether or not you really can see ghosts; after all, you said yourself, Lancaster is bound to be teeming with them. Surely, it's worth a go.'
Lukas studied her for a moment, before answering. "I suppose,' He said hesitantly. Helen grinned, and began to rise. Lukas held up a hand. "On the proviso that, if I feel anything at all uncomfortable, we get the hell out of town?'
"Of course.' Helen carried the empty cups over to the sink. "I'll pack a picnic. We can make a day of it.'