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Bedside Manner: Chapter 5

Bedside Manner: Chapter 5

A Chapter by Bad Medicine

                There was an unusual sort of peace that had settled over the Fleischer household.  That was in large part, Nicklaus thought, due to the fact that his uncle was gone.  The man had left to spend a couple of days in Munich.  Nicklaus didn't know what for " and he didn't care.  The fact that the man was gone was good enough.


                "I see you brought your work home with you," his wife said, offering a small, warm smile as Nicklaus walked through the door.


                His work was hard to miss " a leather satchel practically bursting with texts, journals, and papers.  It was quickly (gently) placed on the living room table so its owner could turn his attention to something much more important " Sofia… and their son.


                Lukas had all of the energy of a five-year-old boy, and he very quickly left Sofia's side to wrap his arms around his father's legs.  It was as far as he could reach " Lukas was a quickly-growing boy, but, Nicklaus was practically towering.


                He was all too happy to return the hug, though " to scoop the boy up, and lift him off of the floor, and just hold him close, and be held close in return.


                "Look at how big you've gotten," Nicklaus stated with a smile.  He was only able to squeeze in a weekend visit about once a month " and it seemed as though the boy was a little taller every time.  He would never stop thanking his lucky stars that he had found the time to be in the hospital when Lukas was born.  Even Gunar had seemed positively delighted by the event.


                It had been rare to see the man so pleased about anything, and in such a benign manner.  His words had still rung in his nephew's head, though " don't screw this up.


                He had been perfect " a healthy size, a good set of lungs, bright blue eyes, and just a tiny bit of fine, blond hair on his scalp.  The latter two were far more important to Gunar, it seemed, than anyone else.


                Gunar had seemed at least slightly disapproving when his nephew had insisted on holding the boy, at least for a little while.  He no-doubt thought that was a woman's job, or that the child didn't need both parents 'coddling' the boy, already.


                Nicklaus had thought he was prepared for it.  He knew everything there was to know " medically and anatomically " about an infant.  He had taken great pains to find out everything he could " but, medical texts said nothing about the overwhelming emotions.  The young man had been thrilled, and terrified and, for some reason, even proud of the tiny thing he had cradled in his arms.  The height of his father had made Lukas look all the smaller.


                He and Sofia had picked the name together " had waited until Gunar was out of the room to do so.  After all, Lukas was their son " not his.


                As out of his depth as Nicklaus still felt about raising a child, he was still happy, as always to hold the boy in his arms " and to try his best to do right by him.  He eventually wound up settling on the living room chair, with Lukas on his lap.


                "I hope you behaved for your mother while I was away?" Nicklaus questioned, his brow furrowing, his expression and tone half-joking.


                "Um…" the boy trailed off.  His face going a little pink, and he very suddenly seemed to find something very interesting on the wall.


                Sofia crossed her arms at the boy's reaction.  "Lukas," she started, "caught a rather large frog out at the pond.  And, what did you do with the frog?" she asked, looking to her son, seeming more amused than anything.


                "I let it go on the kitchen table," the boy started.


                "And..?" his mother said, placing her hands on her hips, not about to settle for a half-story.


                Lukas shifted a bit, and finally mustered up the courage to actually look at his father.  "And, it jumped in the bowl of bread dough."


                The image was almost enough to make Nicklaus burst out laughing " but, he managed to winnow it down to an amused chuckle.  "Well, if you were a frog," he started, "would you be happier out in the pond, or in a house?"


                "The pond," the boy replied, seeming relieved that there was no reprimand coming.  His father, in fact, gave him a small pat on the back.


                "Well, the next time you catch a frog," Nicklaus started, "why don't you come and show me, and then we can let it go back in the pond, alright?"


                Lukas gave a little nod, seeming satisfied with the new arrangement.  His expression, however, suddenly sank just a little.   "Papi?" he started, his tone rather morose, as well, "you're gonna be a doctor.  Is there something wrong with my eyes?"


                Nicklaus frowned at that " and so did his wife.  They both knew exactly who must have put that worry, directly or indirectly, into the boy's head.  As much as Lukas had been the Reich's new Aryan ideal at birth, a baby's eyes were always blue " but not always bound to stay that way.


                "Lukas," his father started, placing his hands gently on the boy's shoulders, and looking him right in the eye.  His eyes were gray " a rather lovely shade of it, too.  "Do you  have trouble seeing?" Nicklaus asked.  "Do your eyes hurt, or itch, or water?"


                The boy just shook his head in response, his expression cautious, as though he was afraid of where the line of questioning might be going.


                "Your eyes are perfect, then," Nicklaus said, offering the boy a smile, and receiving one in return, along with another hug.


                It was a hug his father was happy to return, along with a small kiss placed on top of the boy's head.  He would have been happy to stay there all night, sitting on the living room chair with his arms around Lukas.  The boy's energy was almost boundless, though, and he had already spent a remarkable amount of time just sitting rather still on his father's lap.  The fact that it was late, however, managed to slow Lukas down just a little bit.  In fact…


                "Isn't it almost your bedtime?" Nicklaus asked, a quizzical expression forming on his face.


                "It's not that late," the boy insisted, before trying to stifle a very obvious yawn.  The response got a warm smile from his father, and a chuckle from his mother.


                "I have a little cleaning to do in the kitchen," Sofia noted, glancing to the next room, and then back to  her husband.  "Would you look to put him to bed?"


                He did " and, Nicklaus knew, that was exactly why Sofia had asked him.  It was so rare, outside of summer break, that he got to spend any time with Lukas at all.  He wanted to squeeze in every moment that he could.


                "Alright, you," he started, standing up, and bringing the boy with him, gently placing him over one broad shoulder with a small, fond chuckle.  "Time for bed."


                "It's not even that late!" Lukas stated.


                "It is, too," Nicklaus quickly retorted, albeit playfully.  "Even I'm tired," though he was going to be staying up even later to study, anyway.  His honest claim, however, did halt any further complaining from his son.


                Lukas's room was nice and tidy when they arrived.  The bed even made, and the Steiff bear his father had given him for his birthday a couple of years ago was waiting on the pillow.


                Nicklaus couldn't help but smile just a little at seeing it there.  The boy had only been two when he'd received it, and it was heartwarming, to see that it was still appreciated.  Its place on the pillow, in fact, seemed almost reverent.


                "How is Beschützer holding up?" the man asked,  before finally letting the boy down, to sit on the edge of his bed.


                Lukas just smiled at first, taking the bear in his arms, and giving it a loving squeeze.  "He's great," he stated, kicking the covers down just a little so he could worm his way under them.  "You were right " he still keeps the monsters away."


                "Good," Nicklaus replied, making sure that the boy was properly tucked in, before giving him a small kiss on the forehead.  He trailed his fingers briefly through his son's hair, giving him a smile, and a soft, "good night," before quietly leaving the room.


                He was still glad the boy had taken to the bear so well.  It had been something of an expensive gift " but, it comforted the boy so much.  A stuffed toy, however, could only keep away imaginary monsters.  There was a very real monster that lived in the Fleischer household, and one that was the topic of discussion once Nicklaus had fetched his things and entered the master bedroom.


                "He's been getting more impatient," Sofia admitted from where she was sitting on the side of the bed.


                'Patience',  Nicklaus knew, was not something that Gunar possessed in great quantity.  His nephew was surprised that he hadn't used up what little he had, already.  Five years, and nothing had happened to Sofia or the boy " yet.  Nicklaus, however, was a different matter.  He could take a beating, though, as much as his uncle was starting to switch tactics from physical blows to words.  The words, somehow, managed to sometimes hurt even more than a fist to the chest.


                "He  hasn't hurt you, has he?" Nicklaus finally asked, "or the boy?"


                Sofia shook his head in return.  "No.  You heard Lukas, though " your uncle told him there was something wrong with his eyes."


                "There's nothing wrong with his eyes," the man snapped at no one in particular.  The sudden, sharp tone his voice had taken managed to surprise even him, just a little.  He felt more than slightly guilty when he noticed the cautious look on Sofia's face.


                "I'm sorry," he murmured quietly, sitting on the end of the bed, setting  his satchel down with a small, tired sigh.  "I just… want what's best for him " and I can't even be here to keep Gunar away."


                Sofia offered a small, sympathetic smile at that, and scooted around the corner of the bed to sit next to the man.  "Given your workload," he started, slipping an arm gently around Nicklaus's waist, "I'd say you've gone above and beyond.  You're doing the best you can," she said.  "And… I would expect no less, from you."  That smile broadened just a little.


                It was infectious, too.  A weak, tired smile soon formed on Nicklaus's own face.  At the rate he was going, he would be a full-fledged surgeon in, "two more years.  Then I should have a lot less studying, and at least some more free time."  He slipped an arm around Sofia's waist in return, and gave a gentle squeeze.  "Then, I'll be able to spend more time with the both of you."

© 2012 Bad Medicine

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Added on February 29, 2012
Last Updated on March 12, 2012
Tags: Germany, WWII, family, violence, murder, nazi