Helen glanced up from the book she was reading, as Lukas limped slowly into the room. Her face immediately clouded over with concern, and she put down her book.
'Oh, Lukey. ' She moved quickly towards her brother. Taking his arm, she guided him towards the nearest chair. 'What have you done to yourself?'
'I may have overdone it; a little.' Lukas admitted softly. His paler than usual complexion was sheened with a thin layer of sweat, and he spoke through clenched teeth. 'It's nothing a few paracetamol won't fix.'
'Don't be daft.' Helen almost snapped, betraying her concern. 'You should be in a hospital " we both know it. You're just being stubborn; stubborn and stupid.'
'Probably.' Lukas smiled. He sank back into the soft upholstery and groaned. 'That feels wonderful. Any chance of a coffee? To go with the paracetamol.'
'I suppose..,' Helen scrutinized him for a moment. Lukas looked placidly back.
'Damn.' Helen shrugged; an angry twitch of her shoulders, and left the room.
'Have you got any of those biscuits left?' Lukas called after her. 'The chocolate ones?' He grinned, at the crashing noises of kettle and cups from the kitchen answered his question far more eloquently than mere words.
Ten minutes later, Helen returned, carrying a laden tray. Lukas was glad to see that she had managed to regain her usual calm demeanour.
'Thanks.' He smiled as Helen placed a steaming mug in his hand. Next came a biscuit laden plate, which she set on the arm of the chair next to him.
'You're too good to me.'
'Don't I know it.' Helen resumed her on seat. 'And, don't you forget it, boy-oh.'
'Never.' Lukas promised. He sipped at his coffee, and winced. He lowered his cup. 'Look,' he began. 'I'm really sorry; about this morning, I mean.' His sister studied him impassively from across the room, but said nothing. 'I just..,' He faltered, trying to find the right words.
'I just don't want to go back to hospital.' He shrugged. 'And going to see a doctor amounts to pretty much the same thing. No self-respecting quack worth his license would hesitate for one minute in throwing back into a hospital bed.'
'But why not?' Helen interrupted. 'What's so bad about hospitals?'
'I don't know.' Lukas admitted. 'I just have a.., a feeling. Not like that,' he added, in response to Helens raised eyebrows. 'Just a.., normal feeling. It's irrational, and I know it, but, I think, if go back to hospital, I won't come out again.'
'That's just daft.' Helen said quickly. Then she hesitated. 'I'm sorry. That was just a knee-jerk reaction; it's not daft.' Her face softened. 'But, don't you see, Lukey? That's all it is " just a feeling. Nothing is going to happen to you- either in hospital, or out of it. I won't let it.' She ended in a definite tone.
Lukas couldn't hide his smile of affection. 'Thanks sis.' He took another, larger, gulp of coffee. 'But the fact remains; I'm not going back into hospital. At least,' He amended. 'Not voluntarily. Feeling or not " daft or not- the thought terrifies me.' Which, he told himself, was, itself, a contradiction, of sorts. The thought of death itself held to fear for him, but the thought of going into hospital did.
'How's that for weird?' He thought. Maybe it was just the clinical atmosphere of the places " the sense of quiet desperation and finality. God only knew he had seen enough of the dead inside hospitals, back when he still could see them. He had seen the dead, wandering the corridors; sometimes lingering around the bedsides of those soon to join them. No wonder he hated hospitals.
'Okay.' Helen was saying. 'I may not agree, but I do understand. No more hospital talk. For now.' She stared at her brother until he nodded. 'Right. Good.'
They sat in silence for a little while. Helen had picked up her book, and was riffling across the pages, trying to locate her place.
'Oh, by the way.' Lucas said, remembering. I saw a sign in the park; did you know there's a jazz festival this weekend?'
'Um,' Helen thought for a moment. 'Yeah, I do seem to remember a couple of people at work saying there was a concert soon. I didn't realize it was this Sunday though.'
'Well it is.' Lukas told her. 'you fancy going? We could pack a picnic, and make a day of it.'
'Sure.' Helen agreed straightaway. 'Maybe we could meet up with some of my friends from work. You'd like them.' She threw him a conspiratorial look. 'A couple of them are single " and quite good looking.' She added.
Lukas blinked. Was his sister actually trying to set him up with somebody? He looked across at her, but she had returned to trying to find her space in her book, and refused to meet his eyes.
'And will Roger be there?' Lukas asked, in an attempt to gain valuable thinking time.
Helen kept her attention firmly on her book, but Lukas noticed the slight blush that colored her cheeks.
"Maybe.' Was all she said.
'Well; okay then, I suppose.' Lukas said non-committally. Helen grinned into her book.